There are many reasons to start a modeling career in Chicago. For instance, some of the top modeling agencies exist in Chicago, and there are a decent amount of casting directors looking to Chicago for models. As an example, Holly Allen, casting director at Filmhouse, Inc., says that she chooses plenty of people from Chicago agencies to be in SAG Army commercials, filming in Tennessee. Becoming a model in Chicago might mean a wide market in the midwest and the south.
Attend theater classes and audition for local plays. According to casting director Holly Allen, she chooses Chicago talent for commercials because they are known for having theater on their resumes. Getting a background in theater gives you a leg up on the competition, which can be intimidating in such a large city.
Go to open calls at the top modeling agencies to learn if you have potential. The big agencies like Ford and BMG Models all have offices in Chicago. If the modeling agents are interested in you, they can help you find a professional headshot photographer. You will need modeling headshots to take on auditions around the city.
Ensure the headshots are printed from a reputable printer. This may have to be done by someone outside of Chicago, like in New York, so make sure the printer will mail your headshots to Chicago agencies. Also have your headshot printer make postcards so you can do mailings to tell people who you are or say thank you for a gig.
Sign up for reputable websites to get your headshot and resume noticed. Your agent, if you land one, should be willing to put the agency's name on your website account. Actors Access is a professional website for audition submissions, and it has auditions in Chicago.
Be open to traveling for auditions. With Actors Access, you can submit anywhere in the country that you could travel to within 24 hours, including New York City.
Although being willing to travel might increase your marketability, you should reach your potential in Chicago before considering moving to a larger market.
If you are taking public transportation to auditions, prepare for trains to stall. Leaving early for auditions gives you time in case something happens.