Model Searches or Contests

Elite Model Look Model Search Contest

Elite Model Management / Getty Images

At some point, every model has at least considered entering a modeling contest. They’re a fun way to gain some modeling experience, and who knows, it could be your big break!

But with so many modeling contests out there, it can be tough to know which ones to enter and which ones to avoid. To clear the air, here are a few things you need to know about modeling contests:

Are Small, Local Modeling Contests Worth Your Time?

Yes! While you won’t win a contract with a big-name agency or become the face of a major brand, it never hurts to enter a modeling contest at your local mall or department store. It’s an easy way to get an insider look at the modeling world and see if it’s the right fit for you. And even if you don’t win, the experience will help you become more confident, will teach you how to handle competition (and possibly rejection), and could even lead to other modeling opportunities. And if you do win? Great! That “little” modeling contest could be the first step towards a successful modeling career

What’s the Biggest and Best Contest in the Modeling Industry?

A quick Google search for “modeling contests” brings up thousands and thousands of results. It can be confusing to know which ones are legitimate and worth your time, so here’s one you absolutely have to check out: 

Elite Model Look: What do Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen, and Stephanie Seymour have in common? They were all discovered through the Elite Model Look contest! Needless to say, this international contest is the most prestigious in the industry and is responsible for accelerating the careers of these top models (and many more). Elite holds national competitions in over 60 countries, with the winners going on to compete in the world final. The top 15 models are all awarded worldwide contracts with Elite Model Management, and the top 3 also receive cash prizes.

To participate, you must be female, at least 5’8’’ tall, and at least 18 years old (or have parent/guardian permission if you’re under 18). 

How Do I Know if a Modeling Contest Is Legit or Not?

Unfortunately, the modeling industry isn’t immune to modeling scams. There are people out there who are looking to take advantage of aspiring models and you need to do your homework before entering any modeling contest. Go online and learn as much as you can about it (who created it, how long it’s been around, where past winners are today, and if there are any complaints surrounding it), and don’t be afraid to call a local modeling agency and ask if they’ve ever heard of it. If something seems fishy, it probably is.

If the contest is being held by a well-known agency or brand or is promoted by a major magazine or celebrity, chances are it’s legitimate. Beyond that, be wary of any contest that:

  • Is forced upon you by a modeling agency. Legitimate modeling agencies are selective and make their money off commission, not by pressuring aspiring models to enter their modeling contest (which often comes with a hefty entry fee) 
  • Charges a high entrance fee, yet offers small prizes that have no bearing on your future modeling career
  • Pressures you to pose in ways that make you feel uncomfortable 

Can I Enter a Modeling Contest If I’m Signed With an Agency?

Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on your modeling contract. Some agency contracts clearly state that their models can’t enter a modeling contest unless they have the agency’s written permission. So, be sure to read over your contract carefully before signing up for a contest, and when in doubt call your agent!

Is There Anything Else I Can Do to Increase my Chances of Becoming a Model?

While modeling contests can be a great way to get noticed, they don’t happen every day (that would be exhausting). So in between contests, it’s a good idea to get noticed in other ways, like by submitting your photos to a reputable online scouting company like While you’re busy competing and working on your skills, your photos will be reviewed by top managers, agents, scouts, and industry professionals. The more you explore the many ways of breaking into the modeling industry, the more doors you can open!