Do you think you have what it takes to be a model or actor? Many unscrupulous talent and modeling agencies will lead you to believe so. However, far too often, consumers are victimized by fraudulent agencies promising money, exposure and stardom.
There are ethical and legitimate talent and modeling agencies in the entertainment business. Before becoming involved with an agency, know exactly what they should be doing for you. An agency should be engaged in the marketing and booking of talent. Usually a state license is required to book work for a fee. The agent's role is to promote the talent who has contracted for their marketing services, negotiate the most favorable contract for the talent and collect a commission from the talent. You should interview your agent as thoroughly as you would interview your doctor, lawyer, or CPA. Remember, the agent will be working for you, not vice versa. Carefully review your contract with your agent. This is your agreement regarding what the agent will do to earn the commission you pay.
To help you detect fraudulent opportunities, the Better Business Bureau warns that disreputable agencies often:
- Ask for up-front money, which may be called "registration," quot;consultation," or "administrative" fees. Legitimate agents work on a commission. They don't get any money until you get paid for doing the work they have obtained for you.
- Pressure you to leave a check or cash deposit or sign a contract immediately. The agent may insist that you take acting lessons at a particular school or from a particular teacher; or may try to get you to buy expensive photographs, audition tapes, or other services or materials sold by someone he or she suggests. An agent's time should be spent finding work for his or her client, not selling products and services.
- Display pictures of famous models or celebrities on the walls to make you believe they are represented by that agency, although they're not.
- Use names which sound similar to well-known agencies. Fraudulent companies will sometimes do this to give the incorrect impression that they are connected to a legitimate entity.
- Place phony ads in the help wanted section of newspapers that say something like, "new faces wanted" for commercials, movies or modeling or claim that "no experience is necessary."
Problems or complaints about an agent or an agency may be referred to the BBB, state Department of Licensing and Regulation or consumer protection agency in the city where the company is located. To obtain helpful consumer information on a particular agency, you will need to contact the local BBB that serves that particular city.