Indochine's Top Shelf

Aspiring Urban Models & Managing Expectations

I was talking to a friend today who is considering hanging it up from urban modeling. Her reasons? There's no money in it; the market is saturated - no one can shine; 90% of the "offers" she gets on Myspace and through her website are bogus, etc. Which led me to this conclusion: today's urban model has to view this as a hobby, like an aerobics class on the weekend, and nothing more. With the closing of KING magazine, a recession that is darn near a depression, and hip hop in a slump, gone are the days of models getting $5,000 or more to host or back-to-back SSX issues (how many of those have you seen this year?). Sure, a few of the top tier girls like Melyssa still probably make decent money to host, but by and large the money isn't there in hosting. Also gone are the days of the lead model in a music video making $1,500. It just doesn't happen anymore. Lead models are lucky to get $500 for the day.

Which narrows the money making opportunities for video vixens down to pay websites, modeling in a magazine, and dancing professionally (aka stripping). And fewer models are making big money off websites these days. In other words, the industry has reverted back to what it was pre-2002 (except there was still money to be made on the internet). Back in 2000, if a girl made it into the Swimsuit Edition of BlackMen magazine or Jet magazine -- remember, there was no Smooth, KING, or SHOW back in 2000 -- she got her little check and maybe did a music video or a calendar and that was it. But girls still did it, because it will always be cool to pick up a magazine on a newsstand and see yourself in it.


And that's pretty much where we are today. With the proliferation of prospective urban models on Facebook and Myspace, the best a girl can hope for is a magazine spread or a decent music video. Chances are it won't go much beyond that. Back in 2000 it didn't go beyond that because the career trajectory for urban modeling hadn't yet been formulated. Now it won't go beyond that because supply exceeds demand, discretionary incomes are shrinking, and print magazine are becoming a thing of the past as the internet takes over.

So my advice to the really hot wannabe models out there is that if want to do this, do it. But manage your expectations. Be realistic about where this can take you. You probably won't be the next Buffie because there may never be another Buffie or Melyssa Ford. Those times are over. But there will always be a reigning eye candy model. And it may just be you.

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