HBO Documentary — About Face: Supermodels Then and Now

At the age of 8, plopped in front of a television alone, my future model watched a documentary about Naomi Campbell. I don’t know how she stumbled onto the film or what drew her to the story but something about the supermodel resonated with her. Perhaps it was because Ms. Campbell was tall and my daughter’s height had always been at the top of the growth chart for her age. It may have been because she was African American and my child had not become aware of the unique challenges women of color faced as supermodels. Maybe it was because Naomi embodies the beauty and grace that so many young models find absolutely spellbinding. Whatever it was, the images she saw impassioned her to the modeling industry. “I know what I want to be when I grow up,” were the first words she spoke at the conclusion of the film. At that moment I became astutely aware of the power documentaries can have on children and on their dreams.


Since that time, we have watched countless documentaries together. (I will be posting a list of documentaries and films that I recommend in the near future.) I am always looking for films with the modeling topic. I use them as teaching tools and points of reference frequently because after all, the wisdom of parents quickly diminishes as preteens become young adults. Now that I share her passion for the industry, it gives us time to hangout that is more about “us” sharing something we both love. I am going to miss these mini dates more than anything. [insert mommy tears]


If you haven’t seen it already, About Face is one of our favorites. This documentary delves into the lives of some of the most legendary supermodels in the business. It explores the definition of our sense of beauty over the past fifty years. The modeling careers of timeless beauties Isabella Rossellini, Christie Brinkley, Marisa Berenson, China Machado, Beverly Johnson, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Paulina Porizkova, Jerry Hall, and Christy Turlington are examined. Timothy Greenfield Sanders’ 2012 HBO film gives you lots to ponder as your examine your own preconceived notions about aging and beauty. The film does not glamourize the life of a supermodel but allows the industry greats to tell their stories in a truth-telling confessional style. In a time that is so focused on looks, you learn that each one of these women endured the ups and downs of the profession because of something much greater than their outward appearance. I only wish there could have been a Part II because each participant is noteworthy on their own, so 75 minutes was just not enough time to get it all in. Who knows, maybe Mr. Greenfield will do a follow-up.


Every young model and Momager should see this film. Of course, I recommend watching it together. It is available on Netflix and HBO Online.

about face


What does a Model Momager do anyway?

The morning of Day 29 starts off with the mother/daughter duo wearing our usual t-shirts and undies that we call pajamas, lying in bed in the models tornado struck bedroom and chatting for more than an hour. We spend a lot of mornings doing this now. Somehow as the time draws near, these morning chats have become much more precious. We spend this time going over the agenda for the day and then discussing what else – THE MOVE. The chat comes to an end too soon for my tastes because her phone begins to buzz. It is one of her many suitors so that queues my exit.


My next order of business is to review my “lists”. A Momager always has a to-do-list for their number one client. What exactly is on a Model Momager’s list? Better yet, what does a Model Momager do every day?


The short answer is a Model Momager does WHATEVER IS NECESSARY FOR THEIR CLIENT. This can vary from day-to-day but there are seven things you can expect to do every day as a Momager.


1.  Review the calendar. The number one and probably most important thing I do each day is maintain my client’s daily schedule. We are not the Kardashian’s so there are no personal assistants on our payroll, so that means YOU ARE IT. The daily administrative task of maintaining and communicating the schedule for the day is paramount. The younger your model is the less time you have to spend communicating the days plan with your client, but there may be other people in your household who need to know plans for the day, week or month. (Nothing is better than telling your spouse that you have bookings with your client to attend and have to reschedule their birthday dinner. Oops – not good.) No matter the age of your client, get in the habit of checking email, voicemail and all social media communication to make sure nothing has come up or changed overnight. It all goes on the calendar – hair, nails, dermatologist, waxing, shopping, photo shoots, shows, go-sees, etc. The purpose of the morning discussion is to make sure you have left nothing out and that there have been no changes that you were unaware of. Models love to decide they are going to add additional items to the day without telling you, so beware and be flexible.


2.  Check the messages. Stay on top of all email, texts and manage social media. Make sure all media forums are kept current, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Mornings are usually the craziest and most fluctuating part of the day. A last minute booking can occur at any time, but for whatever reason industry folks love to email you at 7:00 a.m. and ask if you can be there 8:00 a.m. It happens all the time! The early bird gets the worm so the more frequently you check your messages, the more jobs you will book. It is also important to make sure your client stays current and visible on social media. Keep them on the minds of industry folk. A morning Instagram photo, a tweet or FB post reminds them that your client is available for work. Some sites show the last time you logged in, so even if you don’t post anything, at least login.


3.  Plan ahead. If you know your client has an upcoming booking that requires prep, make sure you are prepared. If you know there is an upcoming swimsuit shoot next week, schedule the waxing appointment for the day before. If you have a younger client you probably want to schedule haircuts a least a week ahead of time. If they have a runway show that will not be providing shoes, start shopping as soon as you find this out. This way you have to time order online and have things shipped or mall shop without panic. Again, this requires that you are on top of the calendar at all times.


4.  Maintain the books. I cannot tell you how important this is! Daily record any and all payments, expenses and/or transactions. Yes, even if you spent .50 at the toll booth get a receipt and record the transaction somewhere! You can plug all toll booth expenses into a spreadsheet with the column heading – Toll Booth Charges, as long as you are consistent. There are lots of software programs out there that will help you do this in a more usable manner, but you have to start somewhere. Whatever you do, make sure your client gives you all receipts so you can keep the books update. Additionally, as your client starts booking more paid jobs, you can lose track of incoming payments. I maintain a separate log with the dates of bookings, the rate and when the payment was received. This way I can easily keep track of missing payments.


5.  Stay current. Review fashion blogs and industry trades to stay current on trends. Pinterest is a great way to do this. You can also use sites like Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, Net-A-Porter, Vanity Fair, and InStyle, to name a few. Since your client is a model, you have to think like a model. (Hey that could be a movie title – or maybe that has already been done.) I cannot emphasize how important it is to be in the industry know. Even if it is just a quick review of an article or two per day, know what is hot and know what other models are doing in the business.


6.  Daily coaching. As much as your model loves what they do, they still need encouragement. There is a lot of pressure and rejection that come with this business. You will have always spend time, even if it is just to let them know when they are not selected that something greater lies in the horizon or that the campaign they just landed is a match made in heaven. The difficulty with coaching is balance. Constructive criticism can be taken as a negativism and a critique can be viewed as attacking. This is where your mom hat reigns supreme because you know your child better than anyone. Your tone, body language and timing make all the difference on how your coaching will be received. For example, my client never takes a critique well if she is hungry. Whatever you are going to say, make sure you feed the lion before you say it! It makes a huge difference.


7. Visualize. Always spend some time thinking about or planning the next project you want your client to undertake. This is where your creativity gets to shine through. It can be something as simple as spending time on Pinterest for photo shoot concepts. It could be watching a music video or television commercial that lends itself to a new look you want your client recreate. In your daily meditation a crystal clear idea may come to you about what they can do next. Your mission is to capture that idea. You have to intentionally place yourself in a mode of creativity so that ideas can flow through you. You can use any number of tools to accomplish this, cell phone, computer, a handy-dandy notebook or even a Post-It note. The important part is CAPTURING IT. I am a visual person so I use Microsoft PowerPoint a lot for this task. I have a concepts document and I make a slide per concept. On each slide I incorporate images and notes about my idea and I date it. These are like mini story boards and this is my go to source when I am explaining an idea to my client. So when I approach a photographer for a shoot, we have concepts already waiting. If my client wants a fresh new look, I am ready. If there is something that I think will expand my client’s brand, I am already ahead of the game. I will be writing more about this topic in future blogs.


Don’t get discouraged! I know this sounds like A LOT TO DO. Organization is the key. Spending time daily will help you stay ahead of the proverbial curve ball. Most things can be done right from your cell phone. Happy Momager-ing!