Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Economy Got You Down? Rent Your Kids To The Entertainment Industry!

Illustration for article titled Economy Got You Down? Rent Your Kids To The Entertainment Industry!

Do you want to make more money? Sure as Sally Struthers doesn't do those commercials anymore, we all do! And now, if you have children, you can! Simply put your offspring to work in the fields and factories. Children are diligent workers, they're easily intimidated, and many factories need kid employees because their tiny hands are the only ones that can fit in between the big, dangerous cogs of the machines in order to clean them. The children gain valuable menial labor experience and a taste of the drudgery that will come to define their adult lives, while you, the parent, gain their wages. It's a win-win!

Oh, wait. As it turns out there aren't many field and factory jobs available anymore. Hmm. Well, you could always try and rent out your kid to the modeling and entertainment industry!

From The Wall Street Journal:

Natacha Andrews recently signed up her 4-year-old daughter, Anaya, with a modeling agency. Anaya says she wants to be "like Tyra"—that is, model-turned-media-personality Tyra Banks.

Her mother, a 36-year-old Phoenix attorney, has another motivation. "I know people who successfully saved money this way," she says. In a weak economy, with five kids' college tuitions to plan for, Ms. Andrews says, "I want to make the most out of whatever resources we have."

More parents are signing their children up with modeling agencies and talent classes, in search of fame and, even better, a little extra money in a weak economy. Agencies like Wilhelmina International Inc.'s Wilhelmina Kids and Teens and Funnyface Today Inc. in New York City and Peak Models & Talent in Los Angeles say they have seen the numbers of child applicants grow in the past few years. 


Yikes. Letting your child watch anything related to Tyra Banks is more harmful than letting your kid ride her bike without a helmet. There should probably be a law.

And, obviously, the "but my child really wants to be a model" line is no excuse. You know, when I was a kid, I wanted to be "like Penny," the claymation character from Pee-Wee's Playhouse who had pennies for eyes. But my mom didn't take me to a plastic surgeon to see if my dream of having coins implanted in my ocular cavities could possibly come true. Why not? Because clearly that's insane. (And/or possibly my mom didn't love me enough.) Signing your 4-year-old up for a modeling agency because she said she wants to be "like Tyra" is no less insane.

But, hey, maybe your 4-year-old likes having her self-esteem whittled down to a tiny, frayed toothpick before she even hits puberty.

There's just one problem: As advertisers cut their budgets, there are fewer modeling jobs available. "The quality of jobs and how many options are out there is definitely lower this year," says Jason Jeffords, owner of Puddletown Talent, a Portland, Ore., agency representing 300 kids ages 15 and under.

That means more competition—and, for the kids, more rejection. Carol Stevenson, a public-relations consultant, signed her three kids up with Peak Models & Talent because she wanted them to start saving for college. But she has felt the effects of the job market at auditions. Since June, they have gone to about 12—fewer than she expected. "It's been painfully slow," says the 39-year-old from Stevenson Ranch, Calif. While Jacob, 9, and Annika, 8, have landed a photo shoot for a catalog, her 6-year-old daughter, Sabrina, has yet to get a job.

Breaking the news to children when they don't make the cut can be tough. Sabrina is "a little sad," Ms. Stevenson says. "We've explained to her the best way that we can that for different reasons they are looking for different looks."


"See, honey, your look is the wrong look. It's almost as if you, yourself, are fundamentally wrong at your core because there's nothing really we can do about your terrible non-LL-Bean-Kids-catalog look. Unless, you want to do something about it? Do you, hon? Maybe we could get you some highlights and, like, a prettier face or something? They do face transplants now, you know. I'll call a couple of salons and doctors. Don't cry. Maybe we can have your tear ducts taken out too! We'll fix this: you and me! It'll definitely be worth the $600 you'll earn posing for that print ad."

Still, this is clearly a great business to get into—if you're a child talent agency. You'll have so many applicants for your kiddie brokerage! All you need is a ridiculously, non-threatening name like "Puddletown Talent" or "Funnyface Today Inc." Nothing bad could happen at a place called Funnyface Today Inc, right?  That's why I'm naming my kid modeling agency Gigglesmiles Modeling, or possibly Candy N' Ice Cream Inc., or Pixielicious Talent. The parents won't even see the exploitation coming!


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