Today I'd like to introduce Ursula Bensimon, the founder and leader of Bensimon Models and a talented photographer. I was excited to chat with her and share a mini interview with my readers, because I frequently receive questions on how the child modeling/acting world works. Who better to give a look into the industry than a veteran in the industry like Ursula?
At the bottom of the page, you will find a link to a page where you can apply for your child to be represented by Bensimon Models in southern California. I'm also including a link for my own children's amazing agent, JE Model, in case you live in San Francisco and would like to submit your child for representation. :)
1. Tell us a bit about your story. What motivated you to start your own modeling agency?
I was born in Paris and moved to the U.S. 24 years ago. My father and grandfather were both photographers and inspired me to become a photographer as well, and I enjoyed my career for several years. Years into my career, as I photographed children, I started feeling that it wasn't truthful to me. I wanted to see children in my camera looking like children, rather than someone who looks older. The photoshop and the images being created were no longer feeling like they reflected me.
I decided to start an agency where children felt like they could be models, and that they could be free to be kids too. Every child has their own beauty and I love to work with all different looks, and I love for them to cherish their childhood. They can work on set and learn good work ethic and disciplines, but they need to be able to act as children also.
2. How would you say modeling is a beneficial hobby for children?
It is hard to go in front of people and talk and have confidence, and it is a skill that children need to learn for their life. The children learn to take direction and to look at people in their eyes. Confidence is #1. I signed a very shy girl about two years ago, and she has become a new girl in these two years; she smiles and talks easily with children and adults now. These are skills that children can take through their lives and these skills often cannot be picked up at school.
For parents, it's important to keep children down to earth. Just because they booked a job does not make them the best and they need to be able to work hard and stay humble.
3. Are there children you believe should not be in the industry? If so, why?
Yes, for a few reasons:
- If a child tells their parents that they do not like it.
- If a child treats their parent with disrespect.
- If a child becomes vain and loses their humility and respect toward others.
4. What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different, and every day is busy. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer. I need to always be communicating with families and with clients via email. I need to be diplomatic when navigating relationships with people on each side. I occasionally photograph my kids if needed. I wake up excited to achieve something beautiful every day. I want to create opportunities all the time and take care of everyone.
5. Do you have advice for families in the industry?
I do not want parents to be worried about not booking or getting enough work. Things ebb and flow. I find that the challenging part of the business is that the busier families get, the more they want to get. I consistently remind families to remember that their child is a child and we cannot expect too much of them. Achieve balance. Your child is not a machine.
It is best not to keep changing agencies in order to find more work. The agencies are all submitting you, and they would not be in business if they were not. The grass is not usually greener (an exception would be if they have management or disorganization issues).
Thank you so much to Ursula and Bensimon for your time and for your insight!
If you'd like to submit your child for consideration, or if you have questions about the process, please email Ursula at firstname.lastname@example.org with photos of your child.
If you would like to submit your child to JE Model in San Francisco, you can do so HERE.