The Daily Quirk is very proud to present our newest series where we talk to experts in certain fields to give women advice on trying to accomplish different things for the very first time whether it be acting, singing or maybe even an Olympic champion. Who knows? In this installment, we are calling out to all the girls who aspire to be a model. Let’s be honest. Modeling is a tough industry. It may seem so “easy” to do but when you think about it, there are so many factors that go into this career that you don’t think of right away.
We turned to expert model CariDee English for advice for those who want to become a model. Check out what she had to say about her own experiences, her advice on improving modeling skills and how to manage such a demanding career.
The Daily Quirk: When did you first decide you wanted to model?
CariDee English: Well, I think it’s really important that if women want to get into modeling, they should definitely do it because they love the art of it. I knew I wanted to perform — it wasn’t so much modeling, but — the vessel was modeling, but I loved being able to take pictures and have my picture taken. I just felt so amazing being able to dress up as this character and the challenge of trying to sell that within one frame. I mean, I remember being like five years old and going into my garden dressed up and have my mom’s old 35 millimeter and she’d take pictures of me. I just remember loving that feeling.
TDQ: What do you think is the most important first step for young women who decide they would like to enter the field?
CE: The most important step is to know why you’re going into it. You don’t have to have like a set answer but if you love fashion or if you love the style or if you wanna travel, know why so you know what to keep on when you go through the career. The career is full of ups and downs and rejections. You gotta separate your body from yourself because you’re being judged on your body although it’s not your own personal opinion. It’s somebody else’s for work. Have a very, very strong sense of self as much as you can before getting in. I guess the other first step is just to get some test shots done. Don’t pay anybody an outrageous amount. If you’re with an agency, they should pay for your first test shot which basically is just a photoshoot showing you in a swimsuit and how you are in front of the camera to build a book.
TDQ: You did mention about the industry being harsh and critical, what advice can you give women about remaining happy and comfortable in their own skin while trying to make it as a model?
CE: Definitely have an identity outside of it. I had a wonderful relationship when I first started modeling. That definitely helped to have that friendship and companionship out. I’m an aunt so I really attached myself to family if I wasn’t working to give myself some sort of love and support that wasn’t just all about modeling. It’s important to have another thing that you do outside of it. I also do music which is a great relief. That’s something that keeps me serene, fulfilled and satisfied when I’m not working.
TDQ: I’m just curious, what kind of instrument do you play?
CE: I play drums and I sing. I can play a little bit of everything but my favorite are drums and singing.
TDQ: What do you suggest aspiring models do to increase their chances of getting booked?
CE: Keep on top of your body in a healthy way. It’s so funny. The fashion industry, as far as doing runway, the body measurements are different requirements. For commercial print modeling, you can be a little bit more yourself but it’s definitely a balance of working out, taking care of your body, but not in a way that’s too obsessive because you have to remember that you are human every day. They make models look almost superhuman and mannequin-like but there’s a lot of post. So, the best way to do it and approach [it] is to take care of your body. Don’t go into extreme because that’s just gonna bite you in the ass later. Just a little bit every day, a little bit of work every day. A little cardio. A little this and that. It’ll just set you up in the long run so whenever you’re ready to shoot, you’ll feel ready and not pressured. I’ve done both. I’ve set myself before, I’m working out all the time. I feel great when I’m getting out of a shoot then I’ve set myself up where it’s crunch time and it’s been a weekend of things that weren’t healthy. That’s just not a way to enjoy your job.
TDQ: Is establishing a personal style or brand important?
CE: Yes. It is. That’s the whole reason I decided to do [America’s Next Top Model] because after four years of so much rejection because of my skin, nobody would take me seriously or sign on. I decided to brand and get as much exposure as quickly as possible. I realized that going on that TV show and that route would have been the best way. I think branding is really important because yes, it’s modeling, but you can also branch off to all these other things like I do with music and with psoriasis. I mean, just a little bit of everything makes a well-rounded artist happy.
TDQ: Can you tell us a bit about your own personal style?
CE: My personal style is definitely simple-rocker-chic? If that’s a word. [laughs] Since my personality is so big, I don’t like to do a lot of big, bold prints. I like to keep it very simple black. Leather pants, black pants, white top, black top. Lots of blacks and whites in my world and mostly all black.
TDQ: What’s the best way for young women to improve their modeling skills?
CE: Practice makes perfect. So, take classes in your workout that are body conscious. Like, ballet barre is a great one because you have to keep your toes pointed, you have to keep your neck up and you have to keep a very great posture throughout the workout. That transcends when you have to go onto a shoot, you’re like, ‘Oh! You gotta keep your upper body really beautiful while your legs are jumping in the air or something.’ It’s important to know that modeling is action although it only is one shot; it’s a very athletic job. So, in order for that to be a great translation onto film, be in movement outside of work so when you get into work, you can bounce around.
TDQ: Modeling can also be a very demanding career choice. Can you tell me a bit about what people may not realize goes into the job?
CE: God, everything. The great thing is that agents are there to help you but they also take a big chunk of your money. Obviously for a good reason because they help you get the gigs. I realized that people are like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna make so much money. This shoot is one thousand bucks.’ But then, you gotta take your agent and your manager’s percentage out so always keep in mind that it’s important to save. I don’t wanna say anything hard because it’s great to wake up early and go shoot and be athletic. I think it’s the most important thing is to really be an athlete outside of work because you are when you’re inside of work. You get treated like one. You got long hours. You’re traveling. Sleep is important. Eating is important. So look at it more as almost being an athlete inside fashion.
TDQ: How do you balance the demands of your career with your personal life?
CE: I think if you just love what you do, it doesn’t feel like I have to balance. I just go to work when I need to get it done ‘cause I enjoy it and I love that it’s an escape for me. My personal life is also an escape and I enjoy it so it’s really important that if you’re not loving what you’re doing then maybe you should consider something else. Don’t do something just because you can, just because you are tall or something and people tell you that you should model. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. You know? Life is too short to be miserable and to do what other people expect you to do. So just make sure the balance is loving both things that you put yourself into.
TDQ: And lastly, can you give aspiring models some words of advice on how to do so as well?
CE: Yes! Don’t compare yourself to other models unless it’s somebody that inspires you. Not somebody that, you know, you feel that you’re not superior to or that they’re superior. Don’t go constantly looking at other models and comparing yourself because that’s just not healthy. That’s not gonna help you. Always know that your craft is your craft. Do everything you can to be the best you can be and also don’t pay for anything. Don’t do those things where people are like, ‘Oh! You can model if you pay us $10,000 for all these sittings.’ It’s not worth it in the long run. You gotta be realistic about what the modeling industry is. It’s not about being 5’9’ and tall, skinny, beautiful. There’s lots of women that are in it but just know that when you get into it, it’s the business with a lot of nos and a few yeses. Yeses make up for the a lot of nos. It’s just very important that when you get that yes, you work harder and you don’t rush on it. And through the no, you just flick them off and keep going.
I don’t know about you but does anyone want to get into modeling after reading all of this?
The Daily Quirk would like to thank CariDee English for taking the time chat! To find out more about English, you can follow her on Twitter or Instagram. Let us know if this inspired you or which expert you’d love to hear from for our next installment of “Your First Time.”