Since I am currently staying in Istanbul for model work, I figured it would be a great idea to tell you guys about what an average casting day looks like around here. I have been in Istanbul for 1.5 month now, so I think I got a pretty clear image already. Let’s take a look into my daily schedule!
So to get started, Istanbul has quite a different system than other fashion cities such as Milan, Barcelona, London or Paris. Unlike in the other cities, the models are asked to dress up in nice clothes and pretty make-up when going to castings in order to show themselves off to the clients. Furthermore, it is also important to realize that in Istanbul the clients are not searching for size 0, instead they prefer curvy women with size 36/38. The last difference that I have noted till now is the fact that the models get a driver who brings them to all their castings. This is necessary since the city is so ridiculously big and with very confusing public transport, it wouldn’t be possible for us to go out there on our own and make it to all the castings in time.
Right now it’s 10.00 o’clock in Istanbul, I am waiting for the driver to bring me and the other models to our castings. I got up at 08.30 to start preparing for today: shower, make-up, hair, outfit, bag, breakfast, etc. What will the clients like more? It is always a question mark so I’ll just improvise in the hope it will work out, tomorrow I will try something else to see if I’ll get different reactions… Soon we will be in the car on our way, with an average driving time of 40 minutes. First the driver will explain us we only have three castings today but by the time we came out of our first casting there are already two extra castings where we have to go to. Great! More opportunities for getting jobs! At most of the castings I start to recognize models from other agencies, they are nice but also my competition so I am checking them out: “wow she has a beautiful face, she will get jobs for sure” or “damn she has exactly the right body for this job, I guess they will chose her”. Pretty much going to a job interview and seeing how awesome – or in some cases not very awesome – the other dozens of applicants are but trying not to get intimidated.
You try to prepare yourself as good as possible: is my hair still okay? Let’s do a fast make-up check! Okay I have to switch my flat shoes for heels and take off my glasses to look as perfect as possible. As soon as it’s your turn you introduce yourself with a big smile – a good personality is VERY important in Istanbul ladies! – and show them your portfolio. The client will take a fast glance at the book you have been working on so hard, shows some vague interest (if you are lucky) and returns you the portfolio with a dismissive ‘thank you, bye’. Sometimes they let you try on some of their clothes to see how they fit on you, sometimes they want to make some pictures or an introduction video, which is a good sign! This whole process can take around 10-30 minutes and you are on your way again to the next casting, repeating the previously explained process for around six times per day, six days per week.
People are often surprised when I explain them about castings: “so… you don’t just go to a country to do jobs?” Of course I go to another country to do jobs, but how can I get a job if I don’t go to the job interview first? There are 1000’s of models out there and you have to proof you are worthy to every single client you meet because they have more than enough other options. You have to stand out, be unique, work hard, show personality, don’t complain, smile, take care of yourself, network and show confidence 24/7. There is more to being a professional model than ‘looking pretty in front of a camera’, a prejudice that a lot of people still believe. So sweety, if you want to become a model for the glamour and fame, turn around. With just a pretty face you won’t make it in the fashion world. This might sound very harsh, but that’s an everyday reality for fulltime models. We can get turned down for the most ridiculous reasons. I have been turned down for jobs because I had blonde hair, because I was too fat, because I was too skinny, because I was too short, because my cupsize was too small (or too big), because the arches of my feet were too high, because I was too old (or too young) and I could keep going on for a while more. From the +/- 30 castings you do in a week, perhaps you get max. five jobs out of it – which of course depends on the model and the type of castings. The truth is, you have to accept that you are not perfect and everyone has their good and bad assets. You shouldn’t take all the rejections too personal because the clients are simply looking for a specific type. Furthermore, when you actually get a job the budgets of the clients aren’t that great here in Turkey, and from that budget you only get 50% of the earnings (40% goes to your Turkish agency and 10% to your mother agency). Moreover, with the 50% that you get from a job, you will first have to pay back your costs to your agency before you actually start earning money for yourself (think: flight tickets, housing, pocket money, transport etc.). In the model world this is called ‘working yourself out of the minus’, and you can never know in advance if you will be able to do so. So if you are considering to become a model to get easy money, think again… 😉
So yeah… Often when I tell people I am going to another country for my work, this is their reaction: “wow that is so cool, your life must be amazing!” and “omg I am so jealous of you, earning money with being pretty!” or “look at you, living the good life!” What these people often do not realize is that work, actually really means work. Of course I love what I do, but there is more to it than the glitz and glamour you see in the magazines. Keep that in mind y’all!