I recently attended a modeling workshop for young models and their parents. There was a guest speaker present to share her knowledge on the industry and answer parent questions about how to get started. My purpose for attending was to expose one of my TYF teens to a working model and her experiences. I had no intentions of talking about TYF or my experiences as a professional actress and model...but clearly someone had other plans. The guest speaker was the talented Bianca Golden from America's Next Top Model. We met on social media years ago and shared virtual convo often about the current episodes. I didn't think she'd remember me as I walked in late to the workshop (oopsies) but she did...cool! What was even cooler and scary because I still get nervous, was that she called me up to speak to the audience and share my expertise with the crowd. As I opened my mouth to share about who I am and what I've done, I started with "Bianca and I ended up in two different genres, her fashion, me commercial..." and so on. My intro opened up a dialogue about fashion versus commercial and the realization that so many aspiring models have no clue what the commercial world has to offer and by default seek fashion as a career. Ironically, even Bianca has retired from full time fashion modeling and transitioned to the commercial industry. She, like myself, discovered that while runway and high fashion are fun and girly, TV Commercials and Commercial Print offer much more. The number one motivator is obviously that it pays better, but there are so many perks to the commercial life. I shared with the group why I decided to hang up my high heels after booking my first national print ad for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. It paid around $4000, included a flight to Miami, a 3-day stay on the ship where we shot most of the scenes, an overnight stay on the island before flying back to Miami and let's not forget the national magazine tearsheets and exposure. Cool right? The likelihood of me getting any of that from a runway gig or a fashion editorial is very slim. The average editorial pays about $250 for the day unless you're a supermodel. But this type of outcome happens everyday in the commercial world. Corporations invests tons of money to advertise their products and services; therefore, Commercial Actors and Models reap the rewards of that advertisement. A commercial actor can actually make $100,000 or more on just one gig. I had a cast mate that booked a union commercial that ran for years and he made tons off the residuals of that one booking.
So what's my point? This comparison of Fashion versus Commercial is what Talented Young Folks is all about. In addition to all the great perks an actor or model can receive, the highlight for me is that bookings for youth are almost always age-appropriate. It's the reason I guide parents to pursue Commercials and Print Work over Runway and Couture Fashion. Leave the makeup, the risky clothing and seductive walks to the adults, let a kid be a kid. Especially in this day of media influence and all the negative impacts it has on youth's self-esteem and unhealthy perception of themselves trying to keep up with what they see. I'd much rather encourage my kid to be "famous" as the cute kid eating the cereal on your TV screen than the model posing inappropriately with makeup and skimpy clothing in a magazine or music video. That's just my opinion. And don't get me wrong, I started as a runway diva and sought the big runways of NYC. But I learned the hard way about the dark side of that industry and I found much more peace with who I am as a commercial actress and model. Oh and how could I forget the fact that you can work in the commercial industry your whole life?!?! From diapers to dentures, there's a market for all. So that's my rant about Commercial versus Fashion and why I think it's a much better way to go for any age, but absolutely for our young folks. Hope I encouraged someone to take a detour and join the fabulous commercial life.
- BJ Gianni
Talented Young Folks Founder