Baby Modeling: Interview with Betty Hemby

Susie McGee
Betty Hemby shares some insight on baby modeling with our readers.

Betty Hemby is the author of the upcoming book Honey if the Check Clears, You're in the Pageant. She has judged child pageants that also were combined as modeling competitions and recently took the time to offer her insight on baby modeling to LoveToKnowBaby.

Tell us a little about your upcoming book.

My book Honey if the Check Clears, You're in the Pageant is a compilation of humorous and serious experiences from my 24-year involvement with pageants. My hope after reading the book is that parents and/or potential contestants will be able to make an informed decision about pageant/modeling competitions, easily evaluate their options before making a financial investment in modeling schools or pageants, and avoid becoming the victim of fraud, child predators or poorly run programs. They will either want to walk the runway or run away!

Why should parents get their children involved in baby modeling?

As a start, it will be good to learn how it is done. Parents can determine whether they have the time and patience to handle a baby modeling career as well as other duties.

  • If they work a full time job, will they be able to take off at a moments notice?
  • Will they be able to schedule family and work agendas around their child's modeling schedule?
  • If this is something they can do, go for it, and the money adds up!

How can parents choose a reputable modeling agency?

I would contact the store/catalog where they would like to see their child model. For example, if they like JC Penney, I would contact JC Penney and find out what PR or modeling agency they use. Some stores use PR agencies who in turn hire models for their store client. If this is the case, contact that agency and find out what modeling agency they use. From that point you can learn what is needed directly. You can also go online to find out. JC Penney provides this information on their website.

Are modeling schools worth the effort and the money?

Many of today's supermodels did not attend modeling schools. I was hired by a modeling school in 2004 to do recruitment. My goal was to teach etiquette and more social skills. However, I declined, knowing that some girls would be under the impression that this would lead to modeling and a world of glamour jobs.

Some girls are not suited or do not have the discipline or maturity for modeling. Often times you are being sold a dream that may or may not come true. Once they realize the standards in the modeling industry, some may not or some can't adhere to the guidelines. Someone may not be suited for runway, however they may be better for commercials. If the young lady cannot speak properly and is intent on doing runway, she may be in for a big disappointment.

Spending $2,500-4,000 for a modeling school course is quite an investment. There are usually no refunds and since you have signed a contract, you are responsible for the fee regardless.

You should compare the cost of a modeling school and your local community college. The college costs may be less and the end result will be a 2-year degree. If you drop out, you will still have college credit that can be transferred. Not so in the case of modeling schools. Some go out of business as they are dependent on student enrollment. Mothers that want their daughters to learn etiquette do not need to go this expensive route via a modeling school.

What are some tips and cautions you'd like to share with our readers?

Don't confuse pageants and modeling. Novice parents consider entering their young child or baby in a pageant thinking it will lead to modeling. Find out first whether the judges in these competitions are affiliated with a modeling agency and what their role and is. If the judge is from some local agency in a small town in Kentucky, and you live in Wisconsin, you need to ask yourself how this would help you, especially if you are not able to commute to Kentucky. It would be better to go to Chicago and broaden your reach.

To enter your baby or child in a beauty pageant and pay entry fees is not practical, especially when you can do your homework and just go to the agency directly. Why would you have your child compete against 30-40 kids in a pageant that may or may not be judged by model/talent scouts? If you are close enough to New York, take the money you were going to spend entering a pageant and use that to contact model scouts directly.

Be wary of the Internet modeling sites that post your photo. As a precaution find out who the major agencies are and ask questions! Many scam agencies allude to the fact that they are affiliated with top agencies but in most cases they are not.

Do you have any other advice to share?

Don't have your child in pageants or modeling if they are not mentally ready for it. Paying for college education is usually the mindset of parents when they think of modeling. Don't let this be the sole motivator. Babies and children are needed in the modeling world, but your child and his/her safety should be priority first. If they are not enjoying it, don't push it. Modeling and pageants will be around for a while, so what is the rush?

Baby Modeling: Interview with Betty Hemby