For many aspiring models, it's easy to recognize the many obvious modeling scams like all the different variations of the Nigerian (advance fee) scams. But there is a whole other category of legally operating businesses that don't fall into this category but should still be avoided. Why should they be avoided? Well I just don't think they offer good value for your money. This is a good time to clearly state that this is my opinion. No doubt many on this list will get pissed off and suddenly become internet lawyers threatening all kinds of things because they think my opinion is libelous. Let me take a few moments to teach them a short lesson. Let's say I don't like the new Apple iPad because it does not support flash. I can say "I don't recommend the iPad because it's too shiny and the lack of flash means I can't watch Hulu.com". That is an opinion. I can also simply say "The iPad sucks". That too is an opinion. What I can't say is "The iPad has a super secret chip inside that will steal your banking info off your wifi so don't buy it". That is an incorrect statement of fact that is potentially libelous. Now I doubt Apple will give a crap if I said it but they may not like it so much if Time magazine said it. Get it so far?
Ok. On to companies I do not recommend because I think they suck.
- Let's get the obvious ones out of the way. John Robert Powers, John Cassablancas Modeling and Career Centers, and Barbizon. They will all take anyone and everyone with a valid credit card or a check. You will spend thousands on modeling lessons taught by someone whose last job was selling TVs at Bestbuy. If you get lucky, you will get a modeling job handing out flyers at the local mall.
- Model Management, Inc. in Los Angeles (currently shutdown). This was a typical portfolio mill charging thousands for useless pictures under the ruse of an agency. They appear to be shut down and their web site is gone but keep an eye out for them to pop up under another name. You can see how they typically operated here.
- Wilhelmina PA. They have been aggressively advertising on Craigslist trying to get anyone and everyone to go to their open call (aka sales pitch). They have nothing to do with Wilhelmina NY other than paying to license the name. They want at least $2,400 to shoot your portfolio with their own photographer and will try to sell you on all kinds of useless classes. Here's a link for those too stupid to use Google. There are only three legitimate Wilhelmina modeling agencies. They are in NY, LA, and Miami. The others are all affiliates so do your research.
- MTC/ Model Training Center in San Diego. Models don't need training. Any required training should be done by legitimate agencies after the model is signed. Training cannot make models taller and you can't train the ugly out of someone.
- Elite Modeling Academy. Same as above. They also charge $5,200 for courses. No, that was not a typo. More here.
- IMTA, Proscout, MSA. For the vast majority, some who spend over$10,000 to attend these conventions, it's a complete waste of time. They do have legitimate and real agency reps there that are sometimes paid to be there and are required to do a minimum number of call backs. Call backs mean exactly that. They call you back. If they call you back and talk about the weather or tell you you're interesting, that counts. It does not mean those who got call backs got any offers. In some rare cases, it can be beneficial to a very small percentage of undiscovered talent but you probably don't fit into that category. If you are near a modeling market, go to open call instead and save yourself $10,000.
- Glamour Model Talent Inc. and Latte Model & Talent Agency Ltd in Chicago, IL. They are getting shut down by the Attorney General there. Enough said.
- Orange Model Management in Toronto, ON. From the complaints online, this is either a typical portfolio mill or a poorly managed agency, probably a combination of both. They require models to pay upfront for images shot by photographers with whom they have a financial relationship.
- Panache Model Management in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This one is another modeling school. They say it right there on their home page. Save your money. Not everyone should be a model despite it being your "passion". Here's a real life testimonial for why you shouldn't go there. Then look at the bullshit they are trying to sell on their own website.
- Most online casting sites. With the exception of sites recommended to you by legitimate modeling agencies, most online casting sites are worthless. They just scour Craigslist and other modeling sites and report worthless outdated castings, many of which are scams to begin with. The following casting sites are legitimate but are mostly for actors, not models.
- Styles Model Management Inc. They list their phone number in this press release as 416-895-3011. It's the same number used to recruit for hookers in this ad.
- Anyone listed here. ACTRA Toronto "No Cheque list"
Do you have suggestions for additions? Post a comment with relevant links.