My 7-year old daughter heard a radio ad for a talent search with auditions with Disney and Nickelodeon mentioned. Daughter has NO experience whatsoever in performing or modeling. Daughter begged me to call. I did, not expecting that the phone would be answered. Immediately thought of hanging up and pretending that no one answered.
Since my daughter was so eager, I scheduled an audition for Saturday, March 16. Went to the audition. Had never done anything like this so did not know what to expect. "Inspirational" talk by Holly Kennedy, "international talent scout" that dropped names of lots of stars. Auditions not in private room, rather they were in front of desks at back of room.
At end of audition provided information that described next stages (callback auditions, then rehearsals with professional coaches and showcase performance in front of industry managers, agents, etc.). Costs ranged from $1500 - $6,000, depending on package selected. Was shocked. I expected that the costs would be similar to those for other types of children's activities ($500 - $1,500). Thought it odd that the application form asked about my occupation.
Received callback for second audition. Immediately began Googling company. Noticed that nothing came up except company website and a ripoff report from someone else who was at audition. Looked for Facebook page and noticed that it was created on Friday, the day before auditions. Looked at Twitter and noticed that company had no followers. Thought this was very odd for an entertainment/talent company. Decided to bring my daughter to callback audition so that she would feel sense of accomplishment.
Callback auditions were not auditions. Representative asked me what I wanted my daughter to gain from this. I told her that all I was interested in was a fun, healthy activity where my daughter would gain self-confidence and self-esteem, had no expectations of anything more. Representative asked my daughter a few questions. Then I asked questions "why FB page set up one day before auditions" - answer, new company of independent consultants who have worked in industry many years, "who is owner" - answer, George Caceres, "etc.
High-pressure sales tactics began. I was told that if we pursued this then I would need to "put on my running shoes" because she could tell that my daughter was determined. Representative was honest in that she made clear to my daughter that many children do this, most "start-out" doing commercials and modeling, etc. Representative told me that she liked my daughter's determination and that what I wanted for my daughter were very realistic goals, but that she "could go a lot further."
Immediately moved to sale and brief discussion of contract and "authorization to charge credit card". I said I would need time to think and do more research. Representative smiled and told my daughter very nicely (and I do mean this) that if it didn't work out this time, the company would be back in the area in 6 months or a year. I appreciated this because the Rep understood that I wasn't going to buy and she was courteous to me and encouraging to my daughter. However, once I mentioned the words "think about it" and "research" the audition was immediately over.
May not be a scam, but it is a VERY HIGH PRESSURE sales organization. Others, who do dream of their children becoming child stars, could very easily be pressured into paying exorbitant amounts that they can't afford.
Am posting this because George Caceres, who the rep said was the owner of Big City Talent, is included in other ripoff reports on previous talent agency in California. I can't confirm that George Caceres mentioned by the Representative, and George Caceres mentioned in other Ripoff Reports si the same person. But, checked LinkedIn and there is a George Caceres in entertainment industry in DC. Has only 200-some contacts, which seemed very low for someone in entertainment. Again, like FB for Big City Talent, seems like site was recently created.
Parents beware. If you want your child to have coaching in entertainment industry and opportunity to be in a performance, this is okay. But, why pay $1,500 - $6,000 for what you can do via local cultural organizations for $500 - $1,000 or through a summer camp? Any company that wants you to pay thousands of dollars without being able to think about it for a few days, is, by definition, a very high-pressure sales organization.