I just love how every year I hear about these open calls from so called "model" and "talent scouts" on the television or on popular radio shows . Can I tell you from personal experience what these open calls should really be called? One word: SCAM. That's right, any audition that requires a payment to see a "potential" model is called a scam. That's like saying: "Hey! You're really good at playing baseball. You should become a professional baseball player. There's a catch though... You need to cough up thousands of dollars in order to make it big!" Modeling isn't something that can be taught or "helped" into. It's like any other job. Either you have what an agency is looking for, or you just don't. I once fell victim to these scam artists. So I can't help but feel a sense of sympathy for other people that have been brainwashed into believing that this is the way to go.
When I was in high school, I was told by a couple of people that I should be a model (mainly because of my height). However, I knew deep down inside my heart, I wasn't "model material". Not as of then anyway. In the modeling industry, you either fall in the skinny category or the plus size category. Needless to say, I was just getting over my awkward stage from middle school, and I was neither A nor B. I wasn't terribly hopeless, but let's just put it this way, I would be one of the last girls to get a date for prom (which was true. My prom date was my best friend at the time. I like to call her "Matrix"). I did have hopes of one day becoming one of these gorgeous women I saw in the magazines and in runway shows. So I thought I would finally have my opportunity, when I heard of a little event called Model Search America mentioned on a radio show in Miami, Y100.
When I went to this event, we had to do a mini interview with one of the scouts (which I thought I screwed up on). He asked me one simple question: "What grade are you in?" And I was so nervous and awkward, I responded with: "first". (I was in 10th grade at the time). After that horrible display, I was about ready to throw in the towel, when he called my number to stay in the room. I was absolutely thrilled! But as I watched the other people who left the room, I noticed that a bunch of other questionable characters stayed behind. Only about ten people left. It didn't matter; I still considered me "special" at the moment. When the rest of us stayed behind, we heard the usual speech, and usual tag lines for all of these scam agencies:
- "The reason all of you are sitting here today is because we see potential in every single one of you".
- "Thousands of models have been discovered by our agency."
- "In order to advance in this career, you don't need a portfolio or to pay a cent."
- "But in order to meet the different agencies, you will need to pay $600 to advance. And don't forget to bring pictures to show them! It doesn't have to be professional, just three regular Kodak pictures will do."
Does this sound familiar to anyone? For anyone who has fallen victim to these scams, I'm sure you've heard this dozens of times. To sum up my story, I basically attended the second conference in Orlando for the cost of $600 (not including the hotel, the gas, the food, and other essentials). Let me just say, it wasn't worth it. I went to this thing, did my little strut on the runway, only to see thirty something "so called" agents bored out of their mind, drinking their coffee, making paper planes, and looking at everything but the stage. And then when it was time to walk around the room and show the agents these pictures, none of them looked up for anyone. That was the biggest waste of $600 I could spend.
A little later on in my life, I've come across other scam agencies that I've attended or tried out online, but never once paid a cent (after learning my lesson the first time). Some of these agencies include:
- Once Source Talent: I think these people are worse than Model Search America from what I've read and heard. I didn't stay in there long enough to find out. Again, a scout contacted me on Myspace and said that there was an open call in downtown Miami, and she "thought" that I might be what they were looking for. Just grinning from ear to ear, I agreed to go. What would it hurt? I didn't have anything to do that day anyway. As usual, it was the whole Model Search experience all over again. Again, there were a bunch of people cramped in one room, one by one we were called for an interview, and again I was selected to stay behind. While I was looking at all of these bright eyed faces in the room, I couldn't help but laugh to myself and say: "this is total bull****". The lady of course said this agency was the best (that's funny... Model Search America claimed they were the best). And then the big joke was in the room..." You won't have to pay a cent when you are with this agency, but you will have to pay $400 for your test shots. You'll pay thousands of dollars elsewhere. By the way, all of you have potential of becoming a model." That last word killed the deal right there, and I wasn't bought for a second (not that I ever was). So, everyone was setting up appointment dates for the following day, and the woman kept hastling me: "So you'll come with the $400 tomorrow, right?" I just nodded and smiled and never showed my face there again. When I didn't show up for my "meeting", they kept trying to reach me over and over again, leaving me nasty voicemails and e-mails for two weeks to top that off! When I finally responded to one of their e-mails saying: "I'm broke", I never heard from them again. I wonder why?
- TalentHunter.com: I was on this site for a while. I didn't realize in order to get e-mail I had to pay cash, yet again. Needless to say, my face is still on this site lingering, but till this day I still can't check my e-mail. I don't have much to say about this site from personal experience, but I can say that my friend spent over $40 a month on this site and always had problems with it and every once in a blue moon would get audition notices that never pulled through or cancelled at the last second.
- John Casablanca Model & Talent Agency: This is the same deal as One Source Talent and Model search America. They make hopeful individuals believe they have the potential of being a model or actor and end up giving you the same spiel about how they're the best. However, their tactic is a bit different. Instead of saying: "You don't have to pay a cent! Just for this and that..." they'll say "You know...You do have the potential of being a model, but you could use some work. So pay $2,000 and we'll get you a job when you graduate." No thanks, I'll just stick to a real degree from a real University, rather than some teeny bopper club with dozens of hopeful little girls and boys having their dreams crushed by their graduation day...
Stay away from the bogus scams. If modeling is a career you feel like pursuing, do it the old fashion way and join a legit agency. Don't let anyone contradict themselves and say you don't have to pay a cent for the agency, meanwhile, they're running up a tab for invisible fees. The truth is, yes, to be a professional model, you will have to throw some money out there for comp cards and professional pictures. It's the resume of the modeling business. But don't throw your money away to these agencies trying to "take you a step further" into La La Land.
So the moral of the story? Whenever you hear one of these scammers on the radio or tv, just say to yourself : "These guys can potentially put quite the damper on my bank account".