Is John Casablancas Modeling Agency a Scam?
& do aspiring models really have to go thru expensive modeling schools?
These are genuine questions I have after half a week of rushing into what I'm now rushing to get out of..
I'm currently seeking for feedback from those who went through something similar with either John Casablancas, specifically, or any other modeling agency (if that's what this company can be called..read on)..
My experience is as follows:
Having just returned from volunteering overseas, while looking into various employment options, including various humanitarian & non-profit sectors, general retailing, writing, etc., I decided that a modeling/acting opportunity would be yet another option worth looking into.
I looked online for modeling agencies in my city & among the many that surfaced, John Casablancas showed up as both a modeling & acting agency. I filled in the online audition form & later received a call for a "screening" or audition. Once there, I was told that after a short introduction/demonstration by the company & an audition via a short walk down the runway by me, if I had "the look" I would receive a call back for a proper interview.
The next day I did, indeed, receive a call informing me that I had a "marketable look" & was slotted an interview. After going back the following day for the interview--complete with written & oral tests, script reading, & a lengthy interview--I was presented with sign up forms to what I thought was a business arrangement to have the "agency" provide jobs for me, with a commission being taken by them. Instead it turned out to be a set of sign-up forms for a 5-month modeling course with an upfront "tuition & book fee" to be paid immediately..
Friends & family cautioned me that the one thing a valid agency would not do is make me pay upfront. This I learned later to be true from speaking to different sources from the fashion industry on the phone. I had the understanding at the time that John Casblancas is a school (which they are) as well as an agency, and that I'd not only be signing up for a school course, but likely a contract on modeling/acting connections for when the course was underway (as was advertised). Whereas in discussing with my sister later that day & calling a model friend of hers in New York, we were told that agencies don't put models through paid courses, but rather give them lessons free as a business investment, knowing what they'll get from it in the future should the model's career pick up shortly thereafter.
In looking more online, it seems they (John Casablancas) are legit in that they are a modeling school, but that as an agency, they may not give you the jobs promised you before you signed up for the course & from what we read online, most students that completed their course (and completed payments of up to $3000) never got modeling jobs afterward, but were told down the line that, due to grading & other circumstances, jobs wouldn't work out for them after all. Was I told I had a "marketable look" & slotted an interview, because that's what they tell everyone that comes there? I'm busy wondering..
It seems to me that a key in aspiring models being able to recognize what exactly they're getting themselves involved with is in knowing the difference between a modeling school & a modeling agency..This is what I'm now learning. According to some online sources an agency will never charge potential talent upfront for portfolio or class fees, while a school may, & in a lot of cases will. See the difference?
With yet even more research, I discovered that while in some States, certain laws apply that prevent any modeling agency from enforcing upfront handling or class fees for aspiring models, others don't, including Georgia where I'm currently residing.This means that the initial & most often tell-tale sign of fraudulent suspicion in a modeling agency, may not be apparent in some states, as the act of charging for models enrollment in courses/classes before giving them jobs is legal..
So the answer to my question is that while John Casablancas is a fully licensed school, they shouldn't be confused with an agency & any aspiring model/actor looking to be given immediate jobs through them as an agency, should be aware that instead of the work promised them, they may instead be hit up with monumental (up to several thousand dollar) charges in tuition & class fees, while genuine modeling agencies, in general, don't see the need for extensive or expensive lessons in order to become a model.
I know I won't have a hard time making that differentiation in the future..
Be sure to check out the links below for further & more detailed information..
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More on the subject..
- Six Things That a Legitimate Modeling Agency Might Ask of You
Five Things a Legitimate Modeling Agency Will Never Ask of You
- Avoiding modeling scams - FASHION
How to avoid modeling scams, from your About.com Guide