How to recognize common scams targeting aspiring models

Models should avoid these legally operating businesses

There is another category of legally operating business that hopeful models should avoid. These include nationally known names like John Robert Powers, John Casablancas modeling and career centers, and Barbizon but there are countless more especially in smaller markets.  Although these businesses operate legally, they are considered very poor value or even worthless by most familiar with the modeling industry. In a report for Dateline NBC, Chris Hansen interviewed George Burke, father of aspiring twin models.

George Burke says he spent $30,000 on his daughters’ modeling careers. More than $16,000 went towards fees for the school and competitions for the twins. The rest was for travel, dresses, makeup and shoes.  And what do they have to show for it?  Did they ever get a job modeling?

George Burke, parent: No.

Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent: Did they ever get a job acting?

George Burke: No.

Neal Hamil, Elite Model Management: The only people that are gonna make it here are the best of the best of the best of the best. Because it just comes down to like a very pin point, tiny little group of magnificent girls. And they are God made.

Models are born, not trained. A whole industry has evolved around “training” models. Everyday looking people cannot model professionally as a full time job and no amount of training or classes will change that. Models who are paid to model products are carefully chosen for their commercial look that allows consumers to identify with them. They are often actors or professional commercial/lifestyle models. They are not average Joes plucked off the parking lots of big box retailers. It cost nothing to be evaluated by a reputable modeling agency. Many have open call or Web site submissions.

California requires all talent agencies to be bonded and licensed. The status of this license can easily be verified at the Department of Industrial Relations Web site. There is no need to pay thousands of dollars for a professional portfolio and comp cards. Those come after a reputable agency has signed the model and yes, the model will have to pay for those expenses. It’s a common misconception that modeling agencies will pay all expenses. They are in the money making business, not the risk taking or charity business.

By far the best way to avoid being a victim of a scam is to be realistic. A reality check goes a long way to avoid being a victim of scams that primarily prey on the aspirations of hopeful models.

List of reputable modeling agencies in San Francisco with links to their Web sites.