Thursday, December 28, 2017

MMA/ Model Management Agency: Good Service/ Seasoned Talent Inside and Out of the Office

MMA/ Model Mangement Agency is recognized as one of the most respected talent agencies in the Philadelphia and Tri-State area since it was founded in 1989. They are known for good service through excellent agents over the years in business and have represent seasoned, professional models and talent.

Candace Cihocki – Senior Booking Agent

Cihocki was born in Massachusetts and began dancing when she was four years old. She developed her passion for ballet and cheerleading into musical theater and acting by the time she reached high school.

She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in acting from Adelphi University in 2001. Her goal was to be a working actor and a director.

I lived in New York from 1998 through 2007, and then started to create work for some of my acting friends,” said Cihocki.

By 2010, Cihocki earned a Masters in Fine Arts degree from Florida State University. By that time she had developed a broad range of skills, took various classes and acquired several certifications.

Being in the arts you have to be a jack of all trades. Any skill you can acquire can build you as an actor, a director, or just as a general artist.”

After moving to Philadelphia she managed a theater company, directed for several companies in Philadelphia, coached actors who were applying to get, or attempting to get their MFA, and built an acrobatic festival with a partner that has been running the last four years.

Cihocki has also been working with Leila Ghavnavi, who owns Pantea Productions, for the past six years. The company produces a mix of physical theater, puppetry, and plays. Cihocki directs the shows that Ghavnavi writes.

Seeing and reading talent

MMA clients benefit by availing themselves of Cihocki’s varied life's experiences, and sound instincts.

Her functions as a Senior Booking Agent are varied. She submits MMA talent through Casting Networks, ensures that everyone fits the specs and are available. 

Cihocki also collects voice over demos and submits them for VO work, confirms and declines models for various bookings, uploads images to a Modelwire link to promote models/talent, handles billing and other important tasks.

We typically screen through our submittals and then we invite those with potential and experience to our open call. After they've been screened through an email process they come and do a commercial read or a monologue. We look at them, their book, their resume and then we pick and choose who we think would be marketable, (and) has talent to represent here at MMA.

Are they a print model? Are they a commercial actor? How many lines can they do?

We really want people that are polished and positive. Obviously, we want them to be talented. Either they're a beauty and they move well, or they have great potential to get to that point.

The same thing with actors. We want them to have experience, or at least be that diamond in the rough that's a super go-getter so we can help them along the way and develop them. But ideally we want them to have all of those things in place when we put them in Ellen's office.”

Ellen Wasser-Hrin is the Director of Model Management Agency – MMA.

"Ellen is very easy-going. She's upbeat as a person. She makes a business that could be cutthroat, more kind; She's very down-to-earth. She tries to genuinely help people, which is one of the reasons why I would ever enter into this industry, as I have." 

Smart investments

Different types of investments can be made by various aspiring artists. Some people can afford to take classes, while others can't. Cihocki recommends constant practice and also familiarizing oneself with the language and terms that are used within the industry.

If you don't have money to invest in acting classes, or photos, at least start using the world wide web as your greatest teacher.

If you have the money to invest, if you're an aspiring model, you look at fashion magazines. Try to do tests with reputable photographers.”

Acting, background acting, or movement classes are also recommended, as is a gym class membership.  

Even the most seasoned actors and models; they are constantly studying, improving and working at their craft.

Get one really good head shot. Do indie films (or) student projects, if you are interested in acting.”

Know the industry

Cihocki also recommended that models who are building their resumes participate in Philly Fashion Week, or local charity fashion shows.

A potential model/talent is appealing when that person isn't green and knows a little more about the industry.

Educate themselves and gain as broad a range of experience as possible. They become more marketable that way,” Candace Cihocki said.

Fortune Walker – Booking Agent

I feel everyone has their moment. So, if you're supposed to be an actor, you're supposed to be a model….you feel that. That's your goal and your passion to not give up,” said Walker.

The Hawaiian native possesses an ability to read people by assessing their outward qualities, inward traits, and intangible factors.

Walker's family history led her to become involved in acting, modeling, and pageants as she was growing up. 

She tapped into her personal experience when helping her son sign a modeling contract. Walker had been working as his manager for years, giving her more experience with clients, castings, and bookings. 

I come from a long line of models. My grandmother and mother were models.”

She worked for the Actor's Center (Philadelphia) earlier this decade and also studied there under Rodney Rob and Boni Wolf. 

They took me under their wing. It was a hands-on education.”

Walker enables MMA's models and talent to advance their interests. Each individual that is signed is seen as someone who possesses the ability to succeed. Yes, a balance of effort and patience will be needed. But Walker works to help MMA's models and talent realize achievable goals. 

She underscored a unique advantage that Model Management Agency - MMA offers every represented talent.

Ellen is a truly amazing person. She's very dedicated and passionate. She loves what she does and I think that comes across in her work.”

The Star Factor

Walker's passion for helping people to advance was evident as she described actors and models who have the 'star' factor.

You can see this spark as they become the character. As far as acting is concerned, you can see it right away. Okay, this person has something. Successful models embody different skill sets.

Models are supposed to have a symmetrical face, be a certain size, a certain height. But even then you will always have that one special person who maybe just has an amazing walk, just a gorgeous face.

You always have that one person that just stands out and has the personality for it.”

Embracing your moment

Be prepared to make a sacrifice. Definitely be dedicated if it's something you really want. If it's a dream and a goal for you.” 

An effective booking agent helps careers to advance, which also includes learning how to handle rejection.

There are going to be times when you get frustrated. There are going to be times when you get no's. It doesn't mean it's time to give up. It just means it wasn't your moment.

Regardless of whether you are (just starting at) 70, or you are seven, you're going to have that audition where you just know that you got it. That point could be the beginning of a great career.

You have to be able to sacrifice. There are times when you want to give up and you can't.”

Walker has lived the advice she offers. The success she's achieved in her career is passed on.

My experience as a 'momanger', I refuse to just wait for an opportunity.”

Believe in the future

I enjoy it. I love the whole industry, the talent, the searching, the casting, the auditions, and the bookings for our talent. The thrill of everything about it.

I'm really happy to be working at MMA. I'm excited for the future with the talent and the agency,” Fortune Walker said.

(Company logo and Fortune Walker photo credit - MMA/ Model Management Agency. Candace Cihocki photo credit - Candace Cihocki by Kadish.)