For many years, breaking into fashion or the world of professional acting meant making some connections of an especially rarefied sort. The most successful agencies and independent agents served as gatekeepers of sorts, allowing only those who curried their favor to proceed further along the path to success. That meant that many talented, highly qualified people had to give up their dreams, lacking the means to clear this early, important hurdle.

Fortunately, that is starting to change in significant ways. The stranglehold that the top agents used to hold on these industries is still in evidence, to an extent, but there are clear signs that it has begun to loosen. Newer, more agile alternatives are now increasingly cropping up, giving those who take advantage of them entirely novel ways to get a career-changing break.

Upstart agency One Source Talent, for example, got off the ground with a new model, one that turns the established one largely on its head. Instead of funneling a scant few candidates into the most lucrative opportunities and letting all others flounder, the company emphasizes giving everyone a fair shot.

That means putting together an easily searched database that effectively welcomes all comers. Instead of merely providing the traditional head shots and bare-bones profiles, it also means fleshing out these characterizations in ways that make good sense.

A casting director looking for an actor to fill a particular role, for example, will be able to do more than simply rely on the assurances of agents. Better yet, instead of the traditional acting cattle call, where hundreds of candidates have to be assessed in minutes each, the director can use the power of digital computing to narrow things down.

Instead of being merely faces, names, and ages attached to skimpy profiles, the entries in the company's database include a variety of helpful tags that add new dimensions to the picture. That gives a director the ability to formulate qualitative searches that align with what is specifically wanted for particular projects.

As the company describes at, this model has proven to be an appealing and effective one. Because the experience is so much more satisfying for those in charge of casting or hiring models, it has begun to chip away at the position of the traditional agencies. That means that even those who fail to make progress along the conventional front now find themselves with new, worthwhile opportunities to pursue.