How to Get Started in the Acting and Commercial Modeling Industry

There are some specific things that people need to do in order to get started, find representation and get work as an actor and a commercial model. These are the beginning steps that should be taken when wanting to break into the acting and commercial modeling industry.


  1. Expect trial and error. You’ll make mistakes – that is part and parcel of getting started.[
  2. Figure out what type of work you want to pursue. If you want to get acting work, then creating a headshot will be the first photo you need. If commercial modeling work also interests you, then you will need a composite sheet. Commercial models, unlike fashion models, have no weight, height or age restrictions. Commercial models are cast for all of the non-fashion ads you see in magazines, newspapers, direct mail pieces, on billboards, posters, product boxes, the side of a bus, the internet, etc.
  3. Create eye-catching photos. All actors will need a headshot at some point. This is a photo on an 8X10 piece of paper, with a resume on the back.[3]
    • Some commercial models begin their career using an actor’s headshot.
    • At some point, commercial models will want to produce a composite sheet, also known as a comp or Zed card. This card which can be any size (although it is typically 5X7 or 6X8), has multiple photos showing the different looks a person can portray.
    • Not understanding how to create the right type of photo is where most people make huge mistakes. Not having the needed photos will cause people to spend a lot of time and money unwisely. This is one of the main reasons for people to drop out of the industry because they can’t get the representation work they desire. Quite often the lack of work is not due to their look, but instead, it is because they don’t have the correct materials.
  4. Make every photo for your composite sheet look like an ad. Don’t make the mistake of doing what most people do and just stand in front of a camera and have pretty pictures taken of yourself. Generally, those pictures get thrown away by agents and photographers. The way to get an agent’s and photographer’s attention is by showing them photos that tell a story.
    • Make the photos look like ads. Bring props (items that help make the photos look like an ad).
    • However, you never want to use a logo or a brand name in the photos you are creating. You want to create at least 3-4 shots for a composite sheet. Your photos should show a variety of expressions and emotions. You can get wonderful ideas for your photo session by looking at existing ads in non-fashion magazines.
  5. Find a photographer. Once you know what shots are needed, and how to create them, then you will need a photographer. There are many ways to find a local photographer. One way is to go to It is a great organization (American Society of Media Photographers). At their website, you should be able to find photographers and even assistant photographers at their site.
  6. Find an agent. Once some photos are shot, then you want to show them to agents. Contact as many agents as you can, until you decide who will be your best agent. Here are some ways to find great agents:
    • Go to the local community theater and ask the actors after the play which agents you should be contacting.
    • Try calling photographers in the area and ask them which agents they deal with when booking models. You can try the same question at advertising agencies.
  • How can I join the modeling industry? Create a portfolio and send it to agencies.
  • How do I become more confident around the camera and other people? Try to do it as much as possible so you get used to it. For example, if someone asks you to take a picture with them, don’t say “no” and hide; say “yes” and take the picture with them. You can also ask family members to film you while you are rehearsing your lines. The camera they use will be different, but it will help you get used to being “watched.”
  • How do I join a modeling industry? Create a professional portfolio and send it to modeling agencies.

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