An "open call" for young models and actors is on its way to upstate cities in New York, but this so-called "free evaluation" is only a prelude to the actual evaluation which costs at least $525 to attend, the New York State Consumer Protection Board ("CPB") warned.
Aquarian Associates of Pittsburgh is conducting "open calls" in Rochester on April 21, Schenectady on April 22 and Buffalo on April 24 as part of its "Great American Model Search."
But the CPB said many parents complain that nothing happens at the "free evaluation" because the true evaluation (attended by casting agents and other talent scouts) only takes place in Pittsburgh. That event -- the Great American Model Search -- costs at least $525 to attend plus lodging, transportation and other costs.
CPB Chairwoman and Executive Director Teresa A. Santiago said, "Aquarian claims to select only the most-promising models and actors at these 'open calls.' But parents say virtually everyone is 'selected' and they are then given the option of spending money to attend the Pittsburgh event. When parents think their child has been selected for a special privilege, they're more willing to open their checkbooks."
Even if they attend the Great American Model Search, chances are slim that they will get work as a model or actor are slim, according to agents who are paid to attend the Great American Model Search. The agents also noted that many of these young people won't get work because they live too far away from the big cities where models and actors are hired.
"Parents have to ask themselves: who's profiting from this process -- the kids or this so-called talent company? Talent agencies that charge advance fees, without promising to find work for their clients, have a talent for making money but only for themselves," said Santiago.
On its website, Aquarian says, "We bring together aspiring models, commercial and film talent of all ages and present them in person to industry personnel such as casting directors, film directors, film producers, talent scouts, model agents, and advertising agencies."
The website continues, "Over the past 18 years this concept has provided many infants, toddlers, children, teenagers and adults the opportunity to succeed in our industry. At our presentations we will provide numerous success stories and specific examples of commercials, TV shows, movies, music videos and modeling printwork."
But Santiago said it's all about money.
"Advance-fee operations continue to make money because young people and their parents don't know enough about how the modeling and talent industries work," said Santiago. "We want to warn consumers about companies that hang on the fringes of the New York fashion and entertainment worlds; charging hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of dollars in advance fees for photographs, websites and other services that do little to help find jobs for aspiring models, singers and actors."