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The Power of Side-Gigs

There is not a whole lot of security in a creative career such as modeling. In fact, I'm going to level with you: there’s basically no security at all. When beginner models start to work, they ask, “How long does it take until I start working consistently?” and “Does it always take several months to get paid?”. The answers to these questions are not reassuring. Something that is difficult for beginner models to hear is that there is absolutely no guarantee that, as a model who's signed with an agency, you will work a lot. In fact, there is absolutely no guarantee that you will work at all.

At some point early on in my career, I heard that something like only 1% of all models in the world are Supermodels. If it’s not exactly 1%, it’s certainly in that neighborhood. Those of us who are Models-but-not-Supermodels have two choices: 1) Quit and pursue something else entirely or 2) supplement your modeling career with an additional source of income.

There’s a misconception that by having a “day job”, or any career in addition to modeling (or any creative career), means that you’re giving up on your stature or your seriousness as a model. I disagree, and I’m not the only one.

Actress Bryce Dallas Howard discussed the beginning of her acting career in an interview I saw recently. Like so many other actors and creatives, she waitressed before she began making substantial money in her acting career. She said something I love, that also applies to having a career as a model: “When you are choosing to keep a job in order to provide for yourself and create a strong financial foundation, that’s so powerful, so strategically smart, and so dignified.”

I didn’t need to consider a career in addition to modeling until I had been in the biz for over almost fifteen years. At that time, my career had been consistently going well, but I was mature enough to understand that consistent modeling jobs may not always happen for me. I made a deal with myself that the next time I was booked for an unusually high-paying modeling gig, I’d use that money to pay for some sort of education. As fate would have it, I did get an unusually high-paying modeling gig within a few weeks of setting that intention. The thing was that I wasn’t sure about what else I would want to do. (*One thing I knew I would not do, however, was attend a four-year college. That thought depressed me. I was so thankful that I got to dodge the college bullet early on. But that’s just me!)

I did some inner reflection and inquiry. I began writing in a journal and asking myself what was truly important to me. I started taking care of myself internally so that I could have better access to my intuition. I came to realize that I had been prioritizing my outer life over my inner life. How I looked over how I felt. I was not ok with that.

I decided to book a massage for myself. I had never gotten one before. I was lucky to have been randomly assigned such a nurturing and comforting grandmother-type of woman as my massage therapist. It turned out to be a truly sublime experience for me. As she thoughtfully and mindfully massaged each one of my fingers, and then my scalp, and etc., I thought about what a kind and caring thing she was doing. I was a stranger to her, yet she treated me with such great care. That moved me to tears, right in the middle of the massage. I guess I really needed that. Not only because it made me feel taken care of and grounded, but also because it made me aware that I wanted to do that for others, too. I decided that massage therapy was what I would pursue as my additional career.

That was almost twenty years ago, and I’m still practicing massage therapy today. It has been such a great complement, both financially and personally, to modeling.

Work in a creative business ebbs and flows. There are seasons to it. A wise woman named Marie Forleo said this about creative work: “There is no shame in hard, dignified work. Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and your family to be able to fund your art.”

If modeling is really something you want to keep doing, have patience. Every single model I know has at least one additional source of income. Know that it’s just smart to supplement your income as a model and a creative. You are capable of wearing many hats, regardless of whether or not you're a Supermodel.

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