Is Wilhelmina PA a scam?

Rating: +2

Positive Negative

Wilhelmina PA is a licensed affiliate of Wilhelmina. What does this mean? It means they have an association with Wilhelmina. They are not Wilhelmina NY and prospective models should wipe that name from their mind altogether and evaluate Wilhelmina PA based solely on their ability or lack of ability to book clients.

The word scam is a volatile word that I try to reserve for people operating illegally. Wilhelmina PA, John Robert Powers, Barbizon, John Cassablancas all operate more or less legally in most States. Many will take issue with their business practices which generally include accepting anyone with a valid credit card and hard selling classes and modeling conventions.

So forget the name Wilhelmina. I say the same about John Casablancas Modeling & Career Center and Elite. John Casablancas founded Elite but the school has nothing to do with Elite Model Management Corp.

Here's a couple of people who wrote about their "open call" after they replied to Wilhelmina's craigslist ad.

For those who don't know, this is how a legitimate modeling agency does open call.

1. You walk it, someone looks at you. If you are too short, too fat, too ugly, too anything, they will send you on your way and you will never even see a booker.

2. If you are within stats, they may ask for your book if you have one. If not, they may take a few snapshots and send you on your way.

3. If they are more interested, you might meet with a booker who may ask you a few questions and take your measurements. Then you will be sent away.

If they like you, they may offer you a contract. That's when the real work starts. If they don't like you, they will either say no, ignore you, or tell you that you are too commercial, too editorial, too anything.

This is not how legitimate agencies do open calls.

1. Huge cattle call where you look around the room and you think you are at Walmart.
2. Everyone states their name, where they are from, and why they want to model. Nobody gives a shit. You're not on ANTM and Kelly Harmon is not Tyra. Child Please!
3. Do a mock runway walk. For Christ sake, you're in Podunk, PA, not NYC. Nobody gives a shit about your runway walk.
4. Extended sales pitch. WTF? Did you just get teleported from a modeling agency open call into a Jamaican vacation time share sales pitch?
5. You've been "selected". Hooray! What's your credit card number?

And now for some testimonials:

i also waisted gas on this open call to what i thought was an opportunity with a major agency. i was thrilled about the overall opportunity. so i drove all the way to god knows where up in the cut and was a bit thrown off by the fact that there were like 80 people in the building, possibly more. when i got there. i wasnt surprised because i mean they did put it on craigslist. but at the same time i figured wihelmina would have been more selective on the groups coming out to see them. then the presentation was ridiculous. in my case i got an email back for a set appointment so i thought it would have been more one on one. this women who showcased her son the whole presentation then takes it upon herself to allow everybody to go around the room and say their name where they were from and how they ended up wanting to model. im thinking ARE YOU KIDDING ME? lol we got cancer survivors in the building telling there story which was sad but just irrelevant and too much. i was ready to go at this point. then we were all asked to walk the runway which was pointless as well because this b*tch wasnt even payin attention. ok so in essence of the charges that they are trying to collect from the possible models. some of the fees i didnt have a problem with because i could have used some of the stuff. but i didnt need most of stuff they where offereing i could have paid that i went along. but at the end of the day they still were asking me for 1100 dollars. and this broke down to 75 dollars for a port folio binder. 60 dollars for 2 to 12yr post on their website. 375 dollars for a modeling expertise class, 80 dollars for fed ex ups mailing fees. 180 or so dollars for orientation and some other crap. ok so i had agreed to pay the website fee, the port folio binder fee and that was all i was giving. now the modeling expertise class you charge 375 for what i was told was a one time class. so for someone not like myself but for someone who might have never modeled. if you get this person a job 8 months after the class how much effect really is this 400 dollar one time only class gonna really have. so i thought that was crazy. then on top of that im lookin at their website and the models that they have existing now on there. the photos are pictures of the models that im sure they shot or the models have allowed them to use of them. so my questions is where is the work proof that you have gotten the people you represent already. before i blow my money how fast am i goin to benefit from doing so? so again the professionalism was terrible and i wouldnt recommend them to anybody as well. check me out this is what i do. just did the cover to a local magazine called swerv. issue comes out dec 18th. dc, md area or go to to order. im gonna do this with or with out these lames.


MAn MAn Man, SMH. I had traveled from Delaware which was at least three hrs. I was Hyped up for the monologue i had practiced all night because I love to ENTERTAIN and also do my modeling thing. Its feel great to actually be in front of camera. But I was feeling good until i arrive to some back road where they set up a Pool hall and there was no big sign of Wilhelmina PA. Instead I seen a little ass black sign made out of cardboard box and a lot of cars parked hovering the small abandoned building the call WILHELMINA PA. I stepped into the building and still feels like I'm still the hell outside "The Building had no heat. C'mon im freezing my nuts off in here. Damn I felt like i was walking the Brooklyn bridge to go get DIDDY a cheesecake the way my feet were num" . So there is no one at the front desk directing on where to go or what to actually do but there are signs on the wall. I can tell they just set all of this up because it was very unorganized already. Then this light skin dude comes down asking everyone all loud "Did everyone sign in. I also need you to fill out these applications and staple your pic and resume to it also". I can tell he was rushing and overwhelmed by so many people throughout the day. Then we just waited...for like an hr in the freezing cold while the damn door kept opening because of new applicants. Man It was so many people in one lil ass room that i thought i was at a Roscoe Jenkins family reunion. We finally made it upstairs to here this Women "Kelli Harmon" speak on the success of her young son who is now 18, who she started at a young age to get him where he is now. Bravo that is what im here for too lady. "SUCCESS" But anyway we had babies, young teens, young adults, and just the straight elderly packed into this lil ass room with a broke ass runway. LOL. We all had these packets they had handed out before we walked into the room that explained some crazy ass rates for us. So everyone was to stand up and introduce themselves. This Lady Kelli Harmon was in the back just relaxing not paying anyone no mind. While her two punkass assistants look at everyone weird as hell while they speak. PRETTY CREEPY. So I had to walk the runway and killed it. Then afterward i had to cold read and do a entertaining monologue for this guy in a lil office. I talked with the person that supposedly had scouted me when i sent off my pics. So i gave her some good personality. And I was off for a long ass trip back to the DE. A couple of days later I received a call from a blocked number.I dont know about you but I dont answer blocked ID's. So I got a msg from Wilhelmina PA saying to call them back. I called them back today and I conversed with the scout who says that they want to represent me. Helllll YEAHHHHHH!!! Scout:So we want to set up a photo shoot and get you out here to sign the manager contract that is for specifically for two years. So You have a fee of $2500 that is due when we meet. ME: OH HELL NAH! Got Dammit another SCAM. I cant wait to look back on this situation when I make it big . HAHAHAH Wilhelmina PA $2500 for a photo shoot, the kits, website fee. Remember My face when you turned me down. Well look at me now.

Read more here.

Here's one person's account of an email exchange. Looks like she did her research and saved a few thousand dollars. Good for her.

  • Here’s a copy of an email I just received from them.

    To whom it may concern,

    I’m contacting you on behalf of Wilhelmina of PA, talent agency. We ask nicely that you please remove this post/blog (  ) of our agency, for it is inaccurate and slandering the agency name.

    If you fail to do this, we will have to follow up with legal lawsuits.

    If this message reached an error in recipient(s), please contact the sender immediately and dispose from any computer.
    Louis – Head Talent Scout
    Wilhelmina Philadelphia
    701 E. Elm Street
    Conshohocken, PA

    • Anonymous model

      I’m another model who went to their open call and the two above description of Wilhemina’s open call is pretty accurate.  They should at least be more picky about which model they post up on their website AND look at some of the horrible lighting of the model’s photos!  No one should pay that photographer to do a shoot.  Louis is the African American guy you’ll see at the open call.  He’s also a agent rep at the agency, not just a scouter.

      • Anonymous model

        Also, if you google these words “Ford Elite Wilhemina conspiracy” then you’ll read about their secret meetings to conspire to charge these fees on talent to be in the “elite” world of models.

        • Janet LaCava

          I don’t get it. My granddaughter has done several jobs through them. I do not find them a scam and many of the kids her own age have worked on many jobs and gone on many auditions. We used a photographer that they suggested, but did not require and we were thrilled with them. We did find one, now, closer to us, for her next shoot, but they are truly not a scam. Maybe those who are working and getting jobs, do not call them a scam, but those not getting hired, and that’s not their fault, are calling it a scam. The children’s booking agent, Nicole, in the office, is wonderful.

          • I’m just saying….

            Janet LaCava,
            It seems like you work for them…. I have read all the comments and you are the only one with anything positive to say!
            And you continuously come on this site and do updates to all the negative feed backs…
            If you do not get paid for this, you should!!!
            I’m just saying….. lol
            I have worked with a Model and Talent Company for over 5 years and I know the ins and outs of scams…
            People save your hard earned money! I am the owner of my own model and talent management company and no where no how will I ever be affiliated with someone that will charge $100s or $1000s or dollars for anything. This is ridiculous!
            So with that said… to all my models and actors out there… do your homework!!!
            Its also not that hard to find paying jobs or gigs to build up your resumes…. Network and Connect!

          • lainy

            email me please my daughter is a model we went to the open call..we got suckered in i didnt know all this..

  • Turc444mi

      I just went to one of Wilhelmina’s open calls and it seemed like a total scam to me.  They called me back and told me that I had been selected for acting but I didn’t even go to the open call for acting lol.   I know that I refuse to give them any money. 

  • Jan

    It is not a scam. My granddaughter, age four, is signed with them, and she, and others her age, are sent out on many jobs and have been hired for many jobs.

    All you had to do was contact the main office, like I did, when I was not sure. They set me straight and we are happy to have my granddaughter signed with them. In fact, she will be filming for a children’s tv station this coming Monday. It is liable (written lies).

  • Okay, last weekend I attended the Wilhelmina casting call. I can admit that some of the readings below are a bit exaggerated.  Unless they changed some things up a bit. It was fairly organized. A lot of beautiful men and woman there to audition (unless they were promotional actors) . There was a runway show with very skilled models (?), there was no meet and greet. and the director sat at the end taking notes after a brief talk about about her son. After that there were acting auditions being held in a private room. 

    Now, with that being said…at this point I have no idea if this company is a scam or not. i got a phone call from them last night (and yes it was a listed# caller ID), I called them back and left a message, I have not been able to assess them as of yet.I did however pull them up on and their grade is an F, I couldnt read the complaints but their were 2 of them and that was kind  odd.

    Also, be careful of the posts you read saying that the business is the greatest…some of those could be written by the Wilhelmina staff. (most have no typos). The BBB contains a massive list of modeling and acting agencies in your city, that way you can determine which is the right fit.

    I hope this helps!

  • Anonymous

    last weekend I attended the Wilhelmina casting call. I can admit that
    some of the readings below are a bit exaggerated.  Unless they changed
    some things up a bit. It was fairly organized. A lot of beautiful men
    and woman there to audition (unless they were promotional actors) .
    There was a runway show with very skilled models (?), there was no meet
    and greet. and the director sat at the end taking notes after a brief
    talk about about her son. After that there were acting auditions being
    held in a private room.  

    with that being said…at this point I have no idea if this company is a
    scam or not. i got a phone call from them last night (and yes it was a
    listed# caller ID), I called them back and left a message, I have not
    been able to assess them as of yet.I did however pull them up on BBB.organd their grade is an F, I couldnt read the complaints but their were 2 of them and that was kind  odd.

    be careful of the posts you read saying that the business is the
    greatest…some of those could be written by the Wilhelmina staff. (most
    have no typos). The BBB contains a massive list of modeling and acting
    agencies in your city, that way you can determine which is the right

    I hope this helps!

  • Anonymous

    Update to my post from yesterday:

    So I got the news, My child was accepted into the child division. There is a marketing fee of $1180, this includes marketing on their website and photographs. So then the red flag went off.  I asked her if I can use my own photographer…and she said yes just as long as they are professional photos, along with training. So then my red flag turned to greenish yellow :).

    I have done my research and it seems as though you must pay for photos and marketing regardless of where you go PERIOD. if you are slightly inexperienced then you must pay for training somewhere. Either way, if you do it on your own or with an agency you will spend money.

    I will review and compare the contract package along  with the others and see if this agency is the agency I would like to invest in for my child. In the meantime, I need to find a photographer in my area.

    CONCLUSION: At this point, I do not think this agency is any different from all the others.

    I will be back to give an update soon, good luck!

  • Yes, they gave us a choice of using the photographer who they like, or one of ours. We chose their recommendation and I was glad that they did. Since my granddaughter, who I handle her trips for modeling, commercials, and auditions, has been hired a few times with those photos, I am glad that we used him.

    Photos are expensive, and it does not matter where you go. Our next set of photos, which we need this spring, I found another photographer, closer to home, who is equal in quality. I am allowed to use them. There are other fees, too, like model wire, and other things, with all agencies. I know, because we did belong to two others, before we joined Wilhelmina.

    I do know, that there were a few people who were turned down by the agency, and they are picky, who posted on another site. That upset me. Tell the truth. I was not accepted, I was not their type, instead of “They are a scam”. It has not hurt them. They have a large base of models and actors, who are always being sent out. I DO NOT work for them. I am just the grandmother of one of their kids and they are very interested in keeping the kids working.

  • abc

    I was just called back and hired by Wilhelmina I have not signed the papers yet.  Any advice.  Did anyone have a good experience with them?

    • Did you read my posts, below? Yes, we have been signed with them,for my granddaughter, since the spring. She is working.

    • By the way, they do not hire you. They work for you and represent you. They are very strict, while you are under contract, so read it well.

    • Anonymous

      Please read the last 3 posts. they have most of the answers to your questions.

    • Anonymous

       by the way, do you have any experience in the modeling and acting industry? I want to know if they mostly sign inexperienced models and actors so that they be easily encouraged to purchase some of their workshops.

  • IKNOWbetter


    First just know this. ask no more questions, just STAY AWAY FROM THIS PLACE. Listen. Bottom line is this. When you enter a professional modeling agency as I have. YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, and there is never a reason to call back. YOU PRETTY MUCH KNOW THERE. thats 1. 2. Honestly no agency sets up a runway, has open calls on a Saturday, and never, never, never has any set up fees, EVER! Now lets start.
    Ive been signed to ELITE, BOSS, FORD, and have met with the REAL Wilhemena, and several smaller agaencie which I wont say theyre name because its almost like leaving my dna. Pretty much I have way beyond experience in this business. I have made a lot of money from it, and I know SCAM and BULLSHIT when I see it. They got me. They didnt get paid from me. Never that, but they got me because they even got my attention. Reason being. I knew nothing about the craigslist, the other post for that matter. WHY, because REAL AGENCIES: DONT, I REPEAT DONT look for models. Understand this people. there is NOT enough work for what you have to pay a model out there. Heres the PH test. If you go to a real agency, and they actually pick you, and another person while you are there. WALK OUT. Getting selected by a real agency is hard enough. Gettign selected by a agency and another person the same time does also. Is like 1 in a million. Literally. Heres a school class training on how it works. A agency knows its clients before they know you. WHat does this mean. This means they are a brokerage company. They put you with a client who they know is going to pretty much like you, and for that matter clients to come. They know ahead of time where there money is coming from. No website or any of that phony stuff. Please. Your rate at a real agency is about 250 a hour. Half day on a bullshit job $1000. $2000 a full day. If your hot times that by 4 in a week. Thats about either $4000 or $8000 a week. Lets not talk about internet buyout, campaigns or lest say your fashion runway jobs which if your as hot as the hottest model you can make at least $25,000 a runway. Heres a question. did W, PA look like that type of money. That outfit alone “kelli” had on I knew was bullshit. I knew better, but here’s who the real culprit almost to blame is. Wilhelmina NY. I am amshamed of them for allowing scam artist companies like this to exist on the strength of their brand which I should think they have more integrity about.

    Bottom line young folks. WALK AWAY FROM PLACE LIKE THIS don’t let your zeal, and over enthusiasm to be a model blind you from what deep down you know is too good to be true. Sad part is that they are some people who are about to pay these fools.

    • Tex Davidson

      Sounds like you are busy traveling booked by Boss, Elite, Ford and god knows what other agencies you are signed with. I wonder how you make any money if your agencies all get a commission. Your advice is either just plain and simple bad advice or you are a wannabe with opinions that do not matter.



  • Sonic77

    I went to the Wilhemina PA auditions and I got a call back about 3 days later. I was accepted into the Acting Division and a few other divisions as well ( I only went there for acting though….Hmmmm!!!), but what to me out was that I was told to pay $2400 and I was like OMG are you kidding me? The lady said they could place me a payment plan (still that sounded a bit suspect) and I thought to myself, “Well It wouldn’t hurt to just go hear what BS they’re going to tell me. So I got there, I read over the contract, I didn’t sign anything. Then it was my turn to meet with Kellie. She seemed pretty professional….a bit creepy too, but I was cool with that. So she read over my evaluation from my audition and said I was wonderful in all areas except one, but the person who I audtioned in for recommended I be sent out on auditions in NY asap. I was excited until I was told I had to pay $385 for website fees (to me that souned a bit steep, I don’t really know the cost of website fees) and $60 for orientation. Plus I didn’t have to pay upfront. They did give me time to think it over, but the deadline for that is in March. So I don’t know if signing with them is a good idea or a terrible mistake. What do you guys think????

    • Sonic77

      By the way, that $2400 was reduced to $385 for web fees  and $60 for orientation. So I din’t have to pay all the rest of that money. THat’s wen t I realized they were classes to enhance you talnet. Apparently I didn’t need too much enhancing. THey seemed to love my skills. I just don’t know about $445. How much cuold it cost to place a photo of you on there site? That really went way over my head….Help me!!!!

    • D2Dphotography

      For the fee they are charging you can have someone build you your own site. While being backed by a company name is cool the amount of work your going to do is the same as anyone else. I would say its almost better to grind on your own and connect with good photographers until you find an agency worth working with. They should investin you as much as you are trying t invest in yourself.

      • Sonic Kam77

        Thanks D2Dphotograpy. It’s funny you say that because that’s just what I planned to do. You’ve just gave me conformation.

  • Anonymous

    This agency charges fees, forces you to take classes, get new pictures – and then never sends you on auditions. Do not sign with them. I have been with them for two years this summer, and they have yet to book me on a job or send me on a single audition – EVEN THOUGH I AM A WORKING PROFESSIONAL ACTOR ON MY OWN. Stay far far away. 

  • Matorresmd1

    Scam……the whole thing is a scam..Don’t waste your money like I all my jobs on my own..they have nothing to give you job wise..they blame you if you don’t get work…your teeth are not white enough, your nails are too short or too’s is never their fault…what a joke.

  • Danie

    There are many legitimite runway jobs in PA. Also, I’ve been signed to 2 different modeling agencies and any agency you sign to will be an investment. There will be test shoots, comp cards, website fees, etc. That is completely normal. Wilhelmina of PA is an official affiliate on the site.

    • Raleigh

      I called WILHELMINA-New York today, (3/22/17) to asked if Wilhelmina-Philadelphia was an affiliate and was told NO. I asked why then are they listed under the “affiliates” at the bottom of the WILHELMINA website. The woman replied that they “have to have that removed”… Why is it still there, I have no idea!
      You have to do your homework!

  • artia

    I personally have contacted the Wilhelmina main office and have been instructed that this is legit, the fees theycharge are legit because they are insmaller market and not ny, cali, or miami they are authorized. I was also told that the pa office just having the name doesnt stop there they are involved with every aspect of the agency! So maybe you guys should do your research!

  • lainy

    For all of you who said their kids got jobs.. can you share what they did??

  • Tex Davidson

    I hear great things about this agency from their mother agency in NYC where I live. I am amazed when reading some of these posts how many people are out there that cannot spell. No wonder models have a reputation for being kinda dumb.

    • Nevada

      Omg I have read most of these comments and struggling to get through smh. The grammar is horrible as well as the spelling. Instead of modeling, some need to go back to school OR proof read before hitting the post button

  • Kelly

    I’m from Norway and I had my grandad view the contract they sent me with a legal advisor he told me he was suspicious as well. They want to sign me I was exited at first and now I’m suspicious anybody that can provide me with more info? I’m not flying across the globe again to get scammed 😒

    • Kbee

      Did you join them if so what happen