well,just when I thought I had seen it all,I saw more! My 2 dayghters and I went to a family festival and saw a booth where we could sign up to win a free audition and photo shoot with JRP agency. My 4...yes four year old daughter is really lovely and has been told by eveyrone who sees her that she should be a model/actress...so innocently I signed her name up.I thought that the two girls at their booth were awfully "homely" looking to be representing an agency..oh well. I passed them off as cheap labor just hires to do the "festival".
A few days later I received a call from someone whose words I could barely understand warbling something about Congratulations! Ok...and so it all began. They said that my daughter had been selected to come audition for their National director from California.They told me what time to bring her and mentioned nothing about being a school or anything else for that matter.I am a stay at home mom and my child is hardly swamped with errands so I did not see the harm since everyone has always convinced us that she could be a "star".
Off we went with really no expectations other than a bit of excitement because we had spent a great deal of time and thought picking out what outfit she should wear and doing her hair etc...we got there at 6:30.We were told to be there at 6:45.We were sent to a viewing room with others to view what we were told was a "short" educational film that would last around 10 or 15 minutes.50 minutes later,after watching some clearly propaganda-ish hardly subliminal shove it down your throat sort of film, we were introduced to a blonde girl who clearly acted as though this room full of people was the largest audience she had ever played to.
She spent what seemed an eternity telling us about how their "agency" was the best and dropped about 5 names of famous people who had gotten their beginning from them.Later I realized that they would mention those same 5 names at least a dozen times in the next hour!Anyway, we were told that we were going to be sent back in alphabetical order to have an interview with "someone"..they never were real clear on that and that she(my daughter) would be sent into a room for a short screen audition in front of a camera.It all went very quickly.
I was concerned that they would not let me go in the room with my daughter for the screening. My concerns began. What people would not let a mother be with her 4 year old under ANY circumstance?After that we went into a sparcely furnished room with only a desk, a small flat screen TV on the wall and some poorly frmed images of Madonna and the likes. The girl who could not have been more than 25 asked my daughter a few questions like "if you were selected to do this, would you want to do it for fun or forever?" She said for fun...of course!
Then she asked her if she could sing. Instantly she broke into song and was thrilled to have been asked.She was confident,talented and sweet....the girl told me that my daughter was, and I quote..."highly marketable because of her maturity level". She was very convinvincing because we know that our child is uniquely mature and talented for her age and we did not need these folks to tell us that. The next thing I hear her say is that she thoguht my daughter was amazzing and that she was going to do everything she could to help my daughter because she really believed she could make it. Again, I believed her because it was true.
At this point, I realized it was getting very late and they had told us virtually nothing.My 4 year old was getting very tired and the girl showed NO concern for that.More worries..then she produced a document that had a time on it and told us to call at precisely that time tomorrow to find out if she had been "accepted".We dutifully called the next day and lo and behold, they wanted her! By now my little one was very excited and pumped up but I tried very hard to down play everything to protect her fragile emotions should this all not "pan out.
They told us to come back at 7 PM the same night we called them back.We went at 7 PM against my better judgement with a 4 year old. They put us in the same office and had me read paperwork while they"auditioned" on a test commercial. When my little one came back,the girl gave me a bunch of financial stuff to look over.
With no warning, she handed me a paper that said that the cheapest we would have to pay would be $6,000.00 up front! They told me to think it over while they went and judged her test to see if she would qualify for their "carreer" training. Of course, that is the highest priced one but includes all the"perks" like an included photo shoot.
When she got back, she told me that my child had been selected and oh she was so happy for us! Then, she said she needed money. I told her I would have to call my husband because even though he supports anything his girls want to do and believes in our daughter's capabilities,that musch money up front seemed outrageous to me.The reason they said they had to have it up front was because thery were"closing the division" and they had to get ready for an audition that was coming up that very weekend! Yeah, whatever.
My husband told him that the best he would do is leave them a postdated check for the next day. They did not want to do it but they finally agreed. At this point, we were pretty excited because the girl had convinced us that my little one was going to take Hollywood by storm because of her looks and maturity for her age.
Anyway, when I got home, I started thinking about all of it and I knew I was supposed to go to the agency the next day and take them a second check to pay for the balance of what was owed to them.It dawned on me that at the very end of the interview they began to stress that they were a "school" They also stressed that hey did NOT want MOMMIES around during class time.
6 or more times they said that when you drop your child off for class, we should grab a paper and go shopping! I thought that that was a bit strange,,,what decent parent is just going to drop their baby off with a bunch of strangers? The girl who interviewed us kept saying over and over what a good mommy I was and that I reminded her of her mother....how sickening is that...what a sleeay ploy.
I felt really wierd about all of it by the time I was supposed to go. My husband had deposited the funds into my account to cover the post dated check and I had another check in my hand for 2,ooo.00 more. I dressed my baby up beautifully again and off we went. As I drove I started to feel "icky" like I was selling my child to the wolves so I called my husband and said...here's the deal,if I call and you see that it is I on the caller ID and I let it ring 3 times and hang up, call the bank and do an instant transfer to get the money out of my acount.
I told him that before I gave her the second check, I was going to ask a bunch of unanswered questions and that if I did not like the answers, I would go to the ladies room and call him. When I got there, the girl was there by herself. She said on the phone that she would only be there until 4 PM so I got there shortly before. I said to her that i had some concerns and wanted to know if she could help.
I asked her why if they were one of the most elite modeling schools why there had been absolutlely no documentation of any teacher provided in their handbook?She sputtered and stammered and said that no one had ever asked....I should have left then.Then I asked her why no one had told us that it was going to coast us another $8-10 thousand more dollars to go to IPOP in LA to audition? She said that not all people qualify to go to LA and that we might not have to pay it.
Then I said...but your national talent scout made a big deal out of telling us that Disney is in California and that if you want to work for Disney, you have to travel to LA! because they said that IPOP would be our very best chance at getting work.I then ask her if she could provide me with some documentation on the teachers. She said...let me go look through some file drawers and see what I can find.
She came back with 2 or 3 barely ledgible documents that showed me nothing without my glasses. I asked her if she could just fax them to my house for me to review and she said that she could not because she would get in trouble for going through somone else's files...but this was an ELITE 6-20 thousand dollar school but they had no info on instructors right??? I told the girl that I was sorry that I was keeping her because I knew she had to be somewhere.
It was now 4:30 and she said she had to be somewhere at 5:00 but that she had to hurry and go home and change first. I told her flat out that I was not saying no but that I really needed to think about it. I had called the bank and knew that they had not deposited the first chek yet so I asked for it back.I believe that she must have felt a little bad for us becuase as soon as she realized that I was not going to givr her the 2nd check, she ran to the cash register and handed me my post dated check which I feel quite sure she probably got in big trouble for.
She could have said that the check was not there...but I did get it back. I told her I would be in touch. Before I barely made it out of the door she called and said that she had called the school director who said taht my child could not come to class tomorrow but that if my husband and I wanted to we could sit in on the class. I told her that I did not think that we would be able to but thanks for her efforts. I went down to the Mall level and did some shopping....2 hours later, I saw her walk by me. Sure she had to be somewhere at 5:00.
The national talent scout (yeah, uh huh...) called us for three days after that indignant about the fact that we did not show up for class!!! I guess they must have gone to alot of trouble to stage a mock classroom and hire a reasonably qualified teacher to show up to convince us. I hope they did and I hope they got to feel what it is like to get punked...the really bad part is ...that throughout all of this process, they could have cared less about what this was doing to my little girl.
It was so obvious that they were all about the money. They insisted on having all of it upfront and kept finding creative ways to keep you chasing the dangling carrot.I am glad that I protected my child and that I did not let her get too fired up. I told her throughout the entire process that this might not be good for us and if we did not do it it would be because it was not safe or healthy for her...boy was I right!
I am so heart sick that someone as attractive and somewhat intelligent has to make a living telling lies to mommies and little talented innocent children. It takes a special kind of person to keep a job like that. What I can't stop thinking about is how many mothers HAVE thrown their babies to these heartless wolves. I told the gal that I was in no hurry to find an agency fo her and that if she was as talented as they had spent the last 3 days convincing us that she is, I should have no problem finding folks that want her....for free...
Mothers, a special note...Your child is your greatest asset. No agency in the world is going to improve upon the beauty of a child's spirit. Guard them wisely...protect your babies from these villianous zombies.Thank god we were spared by the grace of god and rational thinking.Incidentally, they never did produce any evidence that teachers even existed at their"school".