In a world that builds you up and breaks you down based on your appearance, choosing to make a career in modelling can feel like defiance. It’s a way to take all the staring and opinions and make a living off it. The exciting experiences that come with it, and the travel and the glitz are cherries on the top.
Modelling doesn’t just test your skills or knowledge, it tests your strength as a person. It’s a cutthroat world and the industry can be exceptionally demanding. This is why having the right foundations and attitude is the key to success within the industry.
The industry used to once be shrouded in mystery with impossible barriers to entry. Today, things are taking a turn for the better, and the industry is slowly opening its arms to talent of all kinds and from all places.
If you’re just starting out, the amount of information out there can be overwhelming. To simplify it we put together this little guide to becoming a model in India, so your dreams move from “planning” status to the “doing” status.
The pre-requisites for becoming a model in India
1. Industry Knowledge
As with all other careers, it is imperative to understand the dynamics of and accepted practices within the industry of your choice. Models should have a fair understanding of different modelling styles, fashion trends, and photographic processes. A good place to start is to identify industry experts who one can look up to for inspiration, be it designers, models, photographers, agencies and follow their work. The goal is to understand who is doing good work and to be inspired by them. Reading articles is another way to stay updated on what is happening in the industry.
2. Versatile and personable demeanour
When it comes to work/assignments models need to be at their best both physically and emotionally. They are expected to perform on set, no questions asked. Sociable and personable qualities are what agencies and the industry are looking for. Cultivating such a personality takes resilience and hard work in the same way that achieving that toned model body requires consistency and discipline.
A model must also have a pleasing, interactive persona and should know the difference between good networking and bad networking. This isn’t to suggest become a people-pleaser, in fact, thanks to social media, more and more models are taking up controversial causes they believe in and they voice their opinions on social media showing strength of character. For instance, Cameron Russels’ #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse campaign against sexual harassment in the industry.
As a model, your body is your biggest asset. Knowing and understanding it allows you to not just perform better but also advocate for yourself. For instance, if you are aware of how your body language changes when you’re feeling shy or when you’re feeling powerful, it’s easier to tap into that feeling at a shoot. Similarly, if you know the kind of foundation that works on your skin or your best angles, it helps you to do better in shoots or castings. Awareness of both the physical self and mental self is key to thriving in the industry.
4. A body
That’s right, models today don’t have to meet rigid and outdated beauty standards in order to succeed and get noticed. As the industry diversifies, social media and editorial shoots are becoming increasingly valued, creating more and more opportunities for unconventional models. In addition, the lobbying by the body positivity movement has resulted in the creation of opportunities for curvier bodies, gender and sexual minorities, and other bodies that don’t match conventional standards. Gauthami Jegi (@gauthamijeji) and Shruti Duttua (@baring.soul) are just two examples of WilderBee graduates who have questioned and changed industry standards.
Where do you start?
1. A Portfolio
Your portfolio is your introduction, it works as both a cover letter and your resume within the industry. A good portfolio is shot in the right light, highlights your best features and shows character. This isn’t to say that a good portfolio is expensive. With the right training and practice, you can style and shoot high-quality self-portraits. Your Instagram is another way to showcase your features and start building a body of work. In fact, agencies often use social media platforms in their recruiting process.
2. Personal Branding
Individuality is a key focus of the industry right now. You can incorporate individuality by cultivating a personal brand. This could be a cause you care about, a particular style you’d like to showcase, the sky's the limit. The important thing is to find what makes you you, something no one else can do as well.
Learn everything you need to know about modelling in under 10 hours from industry stalwarts.
Founded by Lakshmi Rana, Wilderbee seeks to make modelling more accessible and authentic. They believe that a good model is a confident model and that’s it.
With Wilderbee's courses, you can learn all the essentials to modelling from walking the ramp to realising your international aspirations. The online course also includes a detailed guide to building your own portfolio. It covers everything from being your own stylist to taking authentic and aesthetic self-portraits coupled with personal branding which is to amplify your own Instagram handle.
At the end of the day, your looks aren't the thing that will make or break your career. It's your foundations, and having someone who believes in you. Just like the Vogue front cover owes its aesthetics to a team of stylists, photographers, designers, models and investors, your career cannot be built on your own. It takes a village, and WilderBee is the best that there is. It's mission centers around you as a person first and a model second. That's the difference between exploitation and support in this industry, and no one understands that better than Lakshmi Rana who trained over 200 students, many who have been inducted into agencies.
Lakshmi Rana isn’t someone with just extensive experience in the industry, she’s the definition of grit, even amidst the glitz and glamour. Rana made her industry debut with Femina Miss India 2000, and went on to become a favourite of major labels and magazines. She founded WilderBee as part of a larger endeavour to make the industry fair and welcoming to everyone instead of the proverbial “fair and lovely” syndrome. Rana noticed an inefficiency in the manner in which the industry welcomes new talent, instead of teaching and nurturing young models, they were exploited and discriminated against before being cast away. Rana found a second passion in mentoring and honing new talent. This is why the courses and services offered by WilderBee focus on building not just modelling but also financial and emotional skills. Success isn't a milestone, it's a mindset and there's no one better to learn it from!