Modeling Open Calls, Go-Sees, & Casting Calls

Tips for handling a professional modeling audition

One of the ways that modeling agencies find new faces, and clients find models they'd like to book for modeling jobs, is to hold an audition that many models attend at the same time. This type of audition is called an open call, go-see, or casting call. These appointments were once known as "cattle calls," but that term is rarely used anymore. 

Modeling agencies will usually hold open calls for a few hours once a week, allowing aspiring models to simply walk in without an appointment and meet with an agent. If you don't live near one of the major markets, it can be difficult for you to attend an open call. In that case, a model scouting website can be helpful.

Clients will hold a casting or audition at a specific time where numerous models from a variety of agencies meet with the client in person so the client can make their final selection of models.

At these open calls, presenting yourself as a professional is as important as having the right "look." How you conduct yourself during and after one of these appointments can make or break your modeling career.

Always Be On Time

Models lined up for a modeling audition
Wendell Teodoro/Getty Images

Professional models are respectful of others' time and schedules. Time is money and, lateness is never tolerated by agents, photographers, or clients. And with tools available such as smartphones, GPS, and Google Maps, you should always know where you need to go and what time to arrive.

If you have an appointment time, plan to arrive 10 minutes early. There is rarely a need to be earlier, as the interviewer might not be there yet or another model might be auditioning. If you find yourself arriving too early, wait outside or in the building lobby until it's time for you to be seen.

There are occasions when being late is unavoidable. When it happens, always call your agent or the client contact and let them know when you expect to arrive. Be polite and apologetic but professional — avoid listing multiple excuses for the delay.

Agency open calls are a little more flexible, usually running within a two- or three-hour time frame. Try to arrive early so you can be seen at the beginning of the open call. Agents get tired, just like anyone, and models who are seen at the end of the day may have less successful interviews than those who arrive early.

Bring Your Book, Comp Card, or Recent Photos

If you have been modeling for a while you should have a portfolio of images that you can share, often known as a "book." You may also have marketing materials such as a comp card, individual photos of your work, or a portfolio of companies that you have worked with. Plan to bring these with you to an open call to give your interviewer a sense of your work and range.

If you are already represented by an agent and attending an open call with a client, your agent may send materials by email beforehand, or you may be asked to do so. But even if you have already sent materials by email, plan to bring hard copies. The images you email are often used to screen applicants for interviews, and the person you meet with may or may not have them at your meeting.

If you're meeting with an agent for the first time, it's not necessary for you to have professional modeling photos. It is helpful, however, if you bring a few simple snapshots that you can leave with the agent if they ask. Most agents will take some "digitals" of you if they are interested, but it's nice to show the agent that you're prepared.

Only Bring Your Best Work

If you do bring your book, it should only contain your very best photos. Never put contact sheets, outtakes, personal papers, or anything in your book that isn't your very best work. 

If an agent or client looks through your book, they will likely flip all the way to the end. Be sure it is clean, tidy, and contains only your most professional work. Interviewers at open calls see a lot of models in a single day; you never want to give them a reason to take you off their list by allowing them to see unprofessional photos.

Be Organized and Prepared

An open call is a job interview. You want to be prepared and organized, just as you would for a more traditional job interview.

In addition to your portfolio materials, have writing materials other than your phone: a pen and paper, a personal planner, or a tablet. If you must use your phone, do so with it flat on the table so that the interviewer can see that you are taking notes or entering information in your calendar, rather than texting or taking care of something personal.

Always put your writing and portfolio materials in a place where you can access them quickly and easily. This will show the agent or client that you are professional, organized, and respectful of their time.

No Partners, Friends, or Family

A model kissing her boyfriend goodbye in front of a brick column
Shestock/Getty Images

Models under age 18 should always bring a parent or guardian with them to any audition, including open calls. But if you are over 18 years of age, there is no reason for anyone else to attend your interview with you. Just as you wouldn't bring a partner, friend, or child to a job interview, you should not bring them when you meet modeling agents or clients.

If you are meeting an unknown agent or client for the first time, you may want to bring someone with you for safety reasons. It is perfectly acceptable to have that person wait in the lobby or near the front door and to let the agent know someone is waiting for you. A legitimate agent will not be bothered by this.

If you feel unsafe enough that you want a companion with you in the actual interview, you should not attend that casting call in the first place. This applies particularly to modeling jobs or casting calls booked through the internet with someone you have never met. 

Accepting a job through the internet that has not been vetted (screened) by an agent is extremely risky. It is always safer to get your bookings from reputable modeling agencies rather than working freelance through the internet.  ​

Bring a Swimsuit (Women)

If an agency or client is interested in representing or booking you, they will often ask to take snapshots (digitals) of you and take your measurements while you are wearing a swimsuit. Bikinis are preferred, but a one-piece is fine. If you don't have a swimsuit then a good quality matching bra and panty set is fine. 

Wear Boxer Briefs (Men)

If an agency or client is interested in representing or booking you, they will often ask to take snapshots (digitals) of you and take your measurements while you are wearing boxer briefs. Be sure you are wearing good quality boxer briefs that are in perfect condition. No tattered or loose elastic waists, please.

Don't Sign Anything at the First Meeting

If you are offered a contract with an agency your excitement can take over your common sense. This is the time to take a deep breath and think about what you are being asked to do. A contract is a legally binding agreement so be sure you know exactly what you are signing. A legitimate agency will not be offended if you ask to have a lawyer review the document for you. If you don't have the funds to hire a lawyer then an independent agent can be very helpful. The modeling agents at regularly negotiate contracts and they are always willing to give advice and guidance to new models in this area.

On the other hand, if you are at an actual modeling job and the client asks you to sign something you are unfamiliar with or that was not discussed between you and your agent in advance then do NOT sign it without your agent's consent. Pick up the phone and call your agent before signing anything!

Accept Criticism and Advice

To be a successful model you must have thick skin. Don't let an agent or client's criticism affect you. If you met with 50 different agencies or clients you'd likely receive 50 different evaluations of your look or suitability for a job. This is just the nature of the business. 

Yes, sometimes an agent or client can be rude and insensitive but don't waste your time and energy trying to convince them they are wrong. It's just not worth it. Besides, if you rise above it and behave like a professional even if the agent or client is not, you may find that the same agent or client books you for a job in the future. I've seen it happen time and time again.

Have a Professional Voice Mail Message

Remember that as a model you are essentially a self-employed contractor running your own business. Just as any business would have a professional voice mail message on their phone so must you.

Keep your outgoing voice mail message simple, short and professional. Nothing drives an agent crazier than having to listen to five minutes of Lady Gaga or Metallica before they can leave a message; many will just hang up and move to the next model.

Reply to Phone Calls Promptly

It is important that you reply to phone messages promptly. You'd hate to lose a booking because another model got there first. Set up your phone so that you get texts or other notifications when someone has a left you a message.

Relax and Smile!

It's okay to be nervous when meeting an agent or client for the first time. Agents and clients expect this and will do their best to make you feel comfortable. Remember that agents and clients can't do their jobs without you so they really are happy to see you.

Relax, have fun and SMILE!

The Most Professional Model Always Wins!

When you attend an agency open call or an audition with a client you will likely be one of many beautiful faces. So, what separates one beautiful face from another? It's PROFESSIONALISM!

Agencies and clients don't always choose the most beautiful or handsome model but rather the model who they believe is the most professional, easiest to work with, and prepared. Follow these 12 tips and you will be on your way to succeeding at your next open call, go-see or casting!