Shannon Escoto is overwhelmingly modest about her professional success. In fact, when I first asked her about her path, she told me it was “as unglamorous as you can get.” Nice try Shannon...there’s no fooling me! This is a woman who built an entire division of a company from the ground up. She serves as an advocate, mentor, supporter and savvy negotiator for the children whose entire modeling career relies on her skill and expertise. It’s no surprise she is successful, in a cutthroat industry she also brings a heavy dose of empathy and kindness to her interactions. I am completely blown away by her, and I know you will be too. In fact, this post is very “Q&A” heavy towards the end, because I wanted to give Shannon an opportunity to share her amazing insight into the modeling and acting world, and describe what it takes to be successful. Jump right in…if you dare…. ;)
Shannon’s career started with a craigslist ad. She was a senior in college, studying communications at the University of San Francisco, when she spotted an ad for a modeling agency looking for an intern. She thought it sounded interesting, so she gave it a shot.
By the time she graduated a semester later, the agency was so impressed with her work ethic and innate ability to seek out “the next big thing” that they offered her a full-time position. The role? Launch…and grow…the children’s division of the agency.
What started out as a handful of young clients, many being the children of adult models signed to the agency, ended up to growing to the hundreds. Over the course of ten years, Shannon built up the brand that is JE Model Kids, making it arguably one of the best kid’s agencies in the city of San Francisco. She truly is the secret weapon behind the familiar faces.
That’s not to say that her path has been a seamless one. With the explosion of digital technology, particularly the advent of social media, what was once a controlled and confined environment has taken on a world of its own.
In addition to growing the division, Shannon has also found time to grow her family. In the past three years she has welcomed a daughter and son of her own, which has made the relationship between herself, as the agent, and the parents of the children she represents that much deeper.
JE Models now represents around 300 child models. The agency represents babies, toddlers and kids of all ages for print, commercial, theatrical and voiceover work. They work closely with brands like Pixar, Gap, Inc., Pottery Barn Kids, Apple, Coca-Cola, Restoration Hardware, Tea Collection, and Parents Magazine, and have booked kids on TV shows, films & hundreds of national commercials.
And perhaps most importantly, Shannon is particularly committed to pushing clients of all abilities, actively signing kids with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and other special needs, something she says is destined to be “the norm of the future.”
What qualities or characteristics do you look for in a child model? How are you able to gauge what will sell?
How much of a factor are the child’s parents in making a decision of whether you’d like to represent the child or not? Do you deal with crazy stage-parents?!
For someone interested in pursuing modeling or acting for their child, what advice would you give?
Your hours are manageable (or so it seems), but what about your career has made you enthusiastic and motivated to be a full-time working mom? How have you found your balance?
Finally, what has been the best advice you’ve ever received?
To learn more about Shannon’s agency, visit the JE Models Kid’s site here! @je_kids @jemodel
Next week, on DRIVEN for Women, meet Melissa Manice, the startup entrepreneur that's about to revolutionize the healthcare industry.
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