What Every Actor Should Know

Is it a scam? What Every Actor Should know.

As a casting company, we often receive calls from those wishing to begin modeling and/or acting careers, and we often hear the same story: “An agent in town says I have a lot of potential.  After attending a personal interview, they told me I was the only one out of hundreds they were interested in representing, however, they said I would need to take a few classes, have headshots and a modeling portfolio completed by their photographer and printer, and a screen test and acting/modeling classes would be helpful.  It is a lot of money, but, I will gladly do what I have to do, because I think this is really a great opportunity.  A friend of mine told me to call you and you could tell me if this is the real deal, or if it is a scam.”

There are several reputable people who work in the entertainment industry, however, just like any business, there are quite a few who just simply want your money and will make a lot of promises they cannot keep.  There are a few things you can do and know, to protect yourself from a scam.

  • First, know that no one can promise you a job as an actor or model.  Agencies are not the people who make the final decision regarding who is hired for a project - that decision is made by the producer and/or advertising company, with the input of the Casting Director.
  • Casting Directors do not, and cannot take money from talent.  In other words, if you are being told that you need to pay to attend a convention or a meeting with a Casting Director, then you can and should assume they are not a real casting director.  Casting Directors are paid for their services on an hourly basis by the production team.  They do not work for, and are not paid by an agency.
  • To know if a Casting Director is “the real deal”, you can look them up on the website for The Casting Society of America (CSA).  CSA is the only recognized organization in the world for qualifying casting directors as reputable and knowledgeable.  Their website includes a complete listing of Casting Directors who have met the criteria, including completing two full years as a full time casting director on national projects which are also verified, to receive their membership.
  • Talent agents can, and should, recommend good photographers who specialize in headshots, however, the actual transaction of that service should not be going through your agent.  The only way a reputable agent earns money, is when the talent earns money.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau.  It is not uncommon for a large company to have one or two small complaints that are in the process of being worked out (you can’t please all of the people all of the time), however, if a company has multiple unresolved complaints, that should be a red flag.
  • Reputable talent agents do not search out talent through newspaper ads, television commercials, large open casting calls, malls, etc.  They do not need to search out talent - talent finds them.  Reputable agents often turn down talent - even good talent - as they do not want to have too many individuals to represent who would then be competing against each other for the same jobs.  In addition, it would be unrealistic to believe an agent has the time to seek out work for large number of people.  Those with a smaller number of talent to represent, are more successful at finding work for their talent.
  • “Screen tests” are not asked for or seen by true casting directors.  Talent should NEVER pay for this service.
  • Talent should NEVER pay money to their agent for any “upfront” services.  This includes, but is not limited to classes, funds for being included in books, posters, websites, etc.
  • Be very wary of modeling web sites.  Remember, once a photo is posted on a web site for the general public, any one can use the photo, and adjust it as they wish.  This can be especially dangerous for children.
  • Don’t be impressed when a supposed agent begins name dropping.  Many scam artists will throw around names of famous actors, models, they have “discovered” or even large “clients” for whom they claim to provide talent.  It is difficult for the named actors, models or clients to be aware of, let alone follow necessary legal action to stop such illegal and unethical practices of those who lie.  It is not difficult to find photos of these people on the internet, and maintain copies to claim they are yours.  If you want to know who truly represents talent, any SAG (Screen Actors Guild) or AFTRA (American Film Television and Radio Actors) office can give you the name of the talents agent.  Named talent are signed with agencies approved by these offices.  If the agent wanting you is not approved by these organizations, it is simply not possible for them to represent and/or find the national level of work that made these people famous.
  • We hope this information is helpful and we wish you all the best in your pursuit as an actor or model.