So I’m Alysia, I am married to Dan Scudamore – kids photographer and I have a gorgeous son Mikey.
Not many of you know I’m a Northerner, born in Halifax and moved down to London when I was 8 and now I’m a real south east London gal!
I started Urban Angels nearly 20 years ago and we now have a 2nd generation of models which blows my mind! After I decided to start the agency out of a real lack diversity in the industry, I pounded the streets of London looking for models. There was no social media then!!!! I launched with just over 100 kids and we got our 1st booking with Woolworths within weeks, I knew then that Urban Angels would succeed. And so we grew, with 2 divisions now covering all the UK and in excess of 600 models and we encapsulate a real family ethos at UA which makes us very unique, as soon as I hear a voice on the phone I know who it is (and that’s without it programmed into the phone!)
My son Mikey modelled when he was younger and so I know first hand the experiences of casting, of children not wanting to do it and the pride you feel when seeing your children in a campaign. I dropped Mikey on his head at a Mothercare casting when he was a baby, yes there were tears! It took me 4 hours to get him to sleep on a Dreft shoot that was so stressful, he refused to do My K shoot and instead ran around swiping the smarties and showing his ……to the girls! (He was 3!) Please don’t hold it against me, and he was on billboards for a Marmite campaign, so OMG i know all about it x
One of the most frustrating comments we hear is child modelling is like child labour and they are just doing it for the money, well not at UA. I remember one of my original UA models who I had scouted was Brazilian and had come over to London with her family to try and make a better life for themselves and 3 children. We represented the middle daughter who was simply divine and got booked on some amazing shoots, she called me up one day and wanted to say thank you, so I asked her why, she said Alysia i have made enough money now to take my family home to Brazil for a holiday, of course (as you all know me) I was in absolute bits to know that this 9 year old girl had used her modelling money in such an unselfish way, it meant they were going back 1st time in 20 years.
Another story that springs to mind is recently when we said we were closing temporarily due to lockdown, I got an email from a mum to say her son had just told her to tell me, he wanted me to use his modelling money if I needed it, I’m crying again as I write this, modelling is no way just about the money. Of course it helps and the kids can have a nice nest egg for later on in their lives.
There are so many positives that come from modelling, the confidence building that it brings is unreal and I have had so many stories to say what a difference that it has made, the social aspect, life skills, long term friendships with parents and models and so much more. Our mums will tell you, this is from a mum whose 16 year old has been with me since he was 9, “I just want to say thanks so much for how brilliant you have been with him all these years, he loves you guys and the experiences you have given him will last a life time and have developed him so much as a young man, forever grateful xx”
It’s important that we do the consultations in the studio as we can get a real feel of the kids personalities and if the industry is for them. It’s about fun and happiness and SHOULD NEVER BE FORCED, they need to be comfortable having their pictures taken (not me as you know!) x
There are of course occasions when kids do not want to do it and we ask you as parents to stop and take them off set and try again another time. The worst thing is to force it especially if they are upset they will them build up an image in their minds of being on a set and not enjoying it, it stays with them. Babies and kids need to be sociable, happy with new people and new environments, enjoy travelling and most of all adventures. We have had families go to Mexico, Jamaica and Brighton!
Of course there is the rejection but when they are small they will not realise and as they get older use the casting process as a nice bonding time together, to have a meal or a treat, don’t have the emphasis solely on just the modelling. Rejection is a huge life lesson so they will become more resilient later in life as will have experienced this and sometimes they will land that dream job. Keep them positive and always with their feet firmly on the ground x
I would love to answer any questions you may have, please just put comments in the blog and I’ll get back to you…………
The boss – UA Angel Alysia