This past week I had the privilege of interviewing Bridget Halanski, Director of Runway at Factor Model Management. When I walked into the Factor Office I couldn’t help but be instantly inspired by the talent I was surrounded by. I was shocked by the amount of comp cards on the wall by her desk. From booking models to coordinating castings, Bridget is a Runway Maven.
Let’s start with a little background on yourself?
Ah, this is actually quite interesting. I was born in Metro Detroit, but my parents were snowbirds and had a place in Lauderhill, FL. As a result, I would spend my summer and fall in Michigan, and winter/Spring in South Florida. I went to school in both places! As a high school student, I was Editor in Chief of the School Paper, Head of the Drama Club, and did the announcements every day: the typical over achiever. I wanted to be in the entertainment business for as long as I can remember. (I tried to call Star Search as a kid, I wanted to audition. Did I really think they would take a call from a 5 year old?)
What was your first step into the industry and how did you land it?
At the University of Miami, I majored in Broadcasting Communications and Theatre Arts. My first real experience in the business was my internship at Channel 7 for an entertainment news show, Deco Drive (WSVN/FOX in South Florida). Internships are vital for getting a job in this industry after college!
So you were into broadcasting?
Yes, I originally wanted to be a reporter, but once I started working at a news station I realized that I had to start in a very small market at a local station. In a nutshell, I did not want to be in Idaho reporting on potato famine.
How many internships did you do before you landed the dream job? What were some of the most important things you learned through these experiences?
I only did one internship. I consider myself lucky since I had a general idea of where I wanted to be after I graduated. Mind you, ten years ago I never thought I would be booking Runway Models, but you find a niche and stick with it and build a brand. I knew I wanted to work with talent in some capacity…now being at the Premiere Talent and Modeling agency in Chicago, I feel like I have my dream job.
Here you are, now Director of Runway at Factor Model Management, take us though a day in your life?
Copious amounts of coffee, emails, phone calls, repeat. I am running around with my headset on doing 5 things at once. You have to be able to multi-task! I send packages to clients with comp cards or email links of models available for shows and events. I negotiate their rates, look over contracts, coordinate castings, and update their web images. It’s imperative to be organized. Sometimes, you have to do “damage control.” Essentially I am a glorified babysitter (laughs), psychologist, publicist, agent, and manager all wrapped into one!
Wow that is a lot! How do you balance your personal life and your work life?
Personal and work balance is very important to me. My job is 24/7 especially in the busy season- if a model is late at 6am, I’m awake fixing it. Sometimes I have to step away since we are all connected by smart phones 24/7. In my spare time, I love to read, have dinners at home with my hubby and two cats, or relax at The Soho House!
What do you think has been the best moment in your career?
I love to see a young model that I have developed for years book a major show. Picking up the phone to tell the model that they have confirmed the job and hearing their excitement is so fulfilling.
What is the most in demand look at the moment?
Androgynous and ethnically diverse models have been seen on the Runways all over the world.
What advice would you give to those who want to pursue a modeling career?
First and foremost, do not pay for professional images until you are signed. There is no need to invest in any training because once you are represented we will develop you- everything from a runway walk, industry terminology, movement on camera, etc. To submit to Factor Women Model Management, have a friend or family member take some clean photos with very natural lighting and little to no make-up. We will know if we are interested based off of those simple pictures. We also have open calls every single Monday-Friday at 3:30pm sharp!
The most successful models also know their type. For instance, if you are 5’6 and curvy, you probably should pursue commercial print (there is no age, height, or weight requirement for that type of modeling). On the other hand, if you are 5’11, all legs, and a size 2 with wide-set eyes and short spikey hair- you probably are not going to book the latest commercial for Home Depot. That type would have more of an editorial look.
Also, stay healthy! Your physical appearance is what you are selling, so you need to maintain your hair, skin, nails, and figure. That means eating healthy, exercising regularly, and staying away from alcohol and drugs.
How does a model’s personality mold your casting process?
Clients will see hundreds of girls at a casting. How do you stand out? Hands down, personality. Are you charming? Do you make me laugh? Can you make eye contact? Are you confident? If they book a show with Saks Fifth Avenue they have to sell what they are wearing. What I tell them is “fake it until you make it” because no one knows if it is your first casting or your hundredth.
Who do you think are the next top models?
I think the supermodel is having a rebirth and people are now starting to know Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, and Cara Delevingne. I believe social media plays a big part in this. I think the next model of the moment is our girl Amanda Murphy. She even has a selfie with Karl Lagerfeld. That’s when you know you made it! We have some fantastic new faces as well so stay tuned!
What is the single best advice you have ever received?
Network. Network. Network.
If you could have drinks with anyone that you are most inspired by who would it be and what would you order?
I would order red wine. I love Italian Reds. I would love to meet the founders of the modeling industry which are John Robert Powers and John Casablanca. They established the first modeling agencies in the 1920’s and it would be so interesting to hear how they got their start. I would also like to have drinks with Frank Sinatra. I’m an old soul!
Photography by: Taylor Oenick