Below is an excerpt from my new book: "The Actors Success In The Making". Its my first hand personal experiences working with certain people and companies back in the 1990's before I knew what I was involved in.
The scammers methods have not changed over the years. Only the names of the companies have changed. Simply put, they have poured old crappy wine into a new bold bottle and selling it to kids and parents willing to overlook the reality and allow themselves to get caught up in the cheap sparkles.
What is a scam? Example, you go to see a photographer or an agent and they suggest that you take acting classes. Is this a scam you ask? It depends; did you ask the person for a recommendation? Did the topics just come up in conversation? Or perhaps you feel that you were “lured” into classes. Let’s take a look at some of the scams and how they “lure” you into separating you from your money. Your eye catches an ad in a newspaper that a talent or modeling agency is looking for “new faces” – “no experience” needed, just show up for an interview, or an ‘audition”. They will tell you that they have booked new talent into lots of “contracts” and “jobs” to make you believe they are the real thing and that this is your chance of a lifetime!
HERE ARE THE DEAD GIVEAWAYS TO LOOK FOR: Reputable agencies don’t have to put ads in the papers. Check to see if an agent secretly owns an acting School. Oh yes! The rats own both and trick you and I know this for a fact! How it works is when people go to the “agent” in the hope that this agent will take them on. This so called “agent” sends them over to an “independent acting school” for training. If the agent recommends say, three schools then that’s better because they won’t own all three, but if the agent only recommends you to one school – look out!
Over the years I personally came across a few agents who actually owed acting schools on the sly. And when they knew a sucker was coming to visit and learn about the so-called “agency”, (which was also a scam – a front to lure the star-struck kids/parents into their web), the agent would take down any photos pertaining to the acting school and after the students left, the agent would put the photos back up again. It’s a true story and I have many more sordid stories I could write a real expose on... Hey, maybe I will.
Just be careful, when an “agency” claims to have launched the careers of famous people, they may only have had some brief affiliation with that celebrity or their agency. Genuine agencies would prefer that you already have acting training and are experienced enough to be able to perform well at auditions and land a role. Google the agent and see if they have a bad reputation. For example, try a term like “Modeling or acting agent scams in Toronto” or New York. You can even check the ACTRA “no cheque” list and you will see some questionable agents on their list. Do your research.
Another scam is, are you ready for it … “Get Discovered!!”
The scammers appear legitimate, complete with radio and television ads, professional “talent agents” in attendance and the promise of fame for the chosen few. All this “sizzle” is designed to get you in the door for the big sell.
The scammers set up their tables in a room at the hotel and have you turn up for an audition or an interview. During this time they will sometimes have you perform a simple TV commercial script on a camera. Then they tell you that you have good potential, that you have good camera presence, and great eyes for the camera. Then they tell you that they will get back to you in a few days, or so, to tell you if you have been accepted.
This is to make you sit on the edge of your seat for a few days simmering with anxiety. Then the phone rings and guess what, YOU HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED!!!
Now, they book you for an interview, and tell you to bring both of your parents. The reason they want both of the parents at the interview with you is because the scammers have learned its best to “sell” both Mom and Dad together. In addition, they don’t want you to go home and think about it overnight, because you will cool down and get wise to the scam. What the scammers do is get you “excited” right then and there, and then they get you to sign on the dotted line right away – that’s how they get you. Then if you cool down the next day, and want a refund, sorry, that’s not our policy. And that’s just the start of the ‘milking” process.
So far, you have paid perhaps $600 or $1800 dollars for photos or a course, but now they sell you on the extras, and then they move you onto the super sell. This could be a big event in North America or Canada that “everyone is going to”. This is the opportunity for you to get discovered and be famous!! Here you get the chance to “showcase” your talents in singing, modeling, acting, TV commercials, print work or even the catwalk etc, etc, etc.
This is all designed to bring in thousands of young hopefuls and all their MONEY! Do the math, if you run one big event and get say 5000 young hopefuls to turn up, and each pays you $4,000 for all included. Multiply 5,000 hopefuls by 4,000 dollars and you get TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS for five days work! Get the idea? Now it’s true, a few people do get hired in real jobs, and 99.9% of the others don’t even get a set of steak knives for all the money they spent. What they get are broken hearts. Kids whose dreams are shattered. It’s a disturbing reality. Now, have the same event run in another city and you just made another TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS! And that’s not all. Now you decide to do it all again somewhere else like LA, Milan, Miami, Toronto, or how about a big boat cruise!
At one event, I was a judge sitting beside other judges, and we the judges were watching young hopefuls step up on stage and perform their monologues. When we the judges took a break, I asked one of the judges seated with me at the judges table, what he looks for in a performer when they are doing their monologue? He told me that he had no idea, he came from Europe representing a modeling agency, and for him this was a free ticket to North America for a week of fun. (A true story).
Imagine "You" as the event owner: You would be raking in MILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR. That’s why the scammers do it. They live the life of kings, or should I say parasites off the hopes and dreams of the most innocent of all, our children. They deceive us out of our hard-earned money, and then break the hearts and spirits of our kids so that their kids can live the dream of opulence, wealth and brand name Italian handbags that cost 800 dollars – so coooooool!
Please do your research and Google “Acting or modeling scams”.
Please share this with others. Thats how we defeat the scammers, by getting wise to them and then passing the info around.
That's it from me and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Christopher Healy is a family man who lives in Toronto, Canada. He has accumulated a wealth of seasoned experience, wisdom and knowledge over 40 years in the entertainment and media industry.