Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Parallel Careers Perspective

Counseling/speaking/writing/media work and modeling

I have been counseling, speaking, writing and doing media work for 33 years. I’ve been modeling for 38 years. This has been a juggling act with the various scheduling demands of my diverse careers.

Counseling and speaking are easier to schedule - you book clients, you counsel. Speaking is also easy to schedule - you get booked weeks to months ahead, you prepare your talk and you’re ready. Media work is not as easy- you get booked hours, days or weeks ahead. It’s the hour and day notice that can be a problem. If you’re called to go on the morning show tomorrow and you have your early clients booked, you have to call and change appointments. Hopefully you can get hold of everyone in time. Otherwise, you need to make other arrangements. When I was seeing 25 clients a day and had two offices and three dietitians working with me, I would usually have one of my colleagues see my clients. Working with the media has both positives and negatives. On the plus side media work brought in clients, and clients like to see their dietitian on television. The negative side is that clients don’t like surprises. They walk in and see a different dietitian than they expected. I explain that sometimes this is good for the client, as they can get a different perspective. Sometimes they prefer my associate and stay with her (I haven’t had male associates), which is rather humbling.

With modeling, I grew older as “older” models became popular. In some cities- Johannesburg, Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles- I would be booked three days to three months in advance, as there was little competition in my age group. Now in New York City, most of the jobs are for “lifestyle” models, who do banks and pharmaceuticals, and granny work where height is not a prerequisite. I have competition for the first time as actresses are at the auditions. This means I have to be available for auditions within a few hours. Jobs are often booked by 6 p.m. the day before. That results in even more juggling, throwing my appointments into disarray. To compensate, I book clients from 4 - 8 p.m., and will allow a few hours between daytime clients. Casting usually has a few hours’ window, which means I can run off between counseling clients. Fortunately my main office is in the center of the modeling district. TV commercial auditions have a specific time - in that case I need to move clients up or down an hour. That hasn’t been a problem in most cases.

When scheduling talks and media interviews, I do not take appointments and book out with my model agents on the same days. Usually I don’t tell my clients I model, as it sounds to frivolous. And certainly I don’t tell the fashion people on the set I am a dietitian, as they could spend the entire time telling me what they had for breakfast and chastising me for not keeping up to date on the latest supplements they take that have changed their lives. This can be most infuriating! Actually, modeling and nutrition appeared as a good mix for the first time recently. An article in the Wall Street Journal mentioned that Kraft used me, a model to create a “sexier image,” mentioning I was also a registered dietitian. I still model as it gets me out and it is fun when people see me in my Clinique Happy commercial and email me from all over the U.S., Canada and England.

Traveling on shoots can be very boring, and is an excellent time to edit articles and books or catch up on our huge reading piles. Thus, there is time to mesh two careers even when time to devote to the other may seem limited. I have also expanded my parallel careers, as I now give talks on image, using my modeling experience to help people look better and increase their self-esteem. This too, fits well with the healthy eating advice and support I provide my nutrition clients, keeping my parallel careers in sync.