I recently responded to a position posted on Monster.com for the oppotunity to become a scout with the world famous/world's largest scouting network, Wilhelmina.
I live in Indianapolis and for those who may not know, Wilhelmina was recently purchased by TCTalent who purchased Options Talent a few months ago.
I went to the interview skeptical, but since I am trying to get into the entertainment industry myself, I thought I would at least go see what it was all about. I further became suspecious when I entered the room for my interview and saw about 40 other people.
The director came in and rudely told those of us who couldn't start immediately-like tomorrow- to go ahead and leave. About 20 people left right then, some very angry. To make a long story short (the "interview" lasted 6 hours) they widdled it down to 6 people and waited until the end to tell us the pay structure which is weak to say the least.
I was excited at first because of the opportunity to help make the dream of many come true and to be networking with people who could help launch my acting career (they also scout actors, though we were never informed as to how that is done or how they are marketed to agents.)
We were originally told training would last a week and we would possibly be flown to Orlando where their headquarters is located at the end of training. The day after we were chosen the 6 of us role played and were then sent out to scout! Where did the training go? I felt less than qualified to scout talent. We were given guidelines to go by specifying size and facial structure of potential models, which my 4 yr. old niece could identify.
We got back together in the afternoon and were told to scout more people that evening. Mind you this was represented as a part-time job that could be done around your schedule. We had already put in 6 hours and were expected to spend the entire evening scouting.
The next day (Saturday) was our first open call. As I watched the people file in I started to feel a bit guilty. These young people were so nervous about the call and I started to feel the scouts preyed on those that were easy. Some of the potential "models" did not even meet the basic criteria, nor did they have "that look" we were told to say.
High energy dance music was played while "models" completed their info forms in an office that looked great, despite the fact the sign designating it was Wilhelmina was just put up moments before they came in. Just before the director went in to give her speech, I overheard they had to be prepared to pay today despite the fact they were supposed to be further evaluated by corporate.
I began feeling more and more that this was not right. It just seemed like a scam, and I really wanted to believe it was ligit. I sat in the room as the director did the final evaluation. EVERYONE was offered a call from corporate to enter the program - which places your photo and stats on a network that supposedly thousands of agents have access to.
I honestly believe in the models that have become successful through this type of marketing, but I also believe the majority of individuals are not going to even get their money's worth. I know that agents are NOT going to pull a model out of a small market that has no experience into a larger market when there are models in their own market meeting their criteria who do have experience.
Think about the expenses associated with transporting an inexperienced model across the US, not to mention the time constraint. Indianpolis is NOT a model market, so the models would have to go to Chicago. The "models" we scout have no experience, generally, and have no idea of the market. The entertainment industry is plagued with many of talented individuals that aren't working; agents are not going to mess with those that have no experience. But this is not what you are told. I do also believe there are many who make it because they have a unique look. This is rare...as rare as the extremely tall anorexic runway models.
So, we were told to look for print models primarily. Few models we "scouted" would be selected for print based on the criteria. At the open call three people were asked to leave because they didn't make the "cut". These were people who should have never been scouted in the first place. They were either scouted to meet the criteria (scouts have to meet a quota) or were scouted so they could be cut in front of everyone else who were left to believe they had what it took.
One girl asked to leave did not meet two of the necessary criteria. Leaving one to question why she was even approached at all. I decided to further investigate TCT and Wilhelmina before I drug my name down with this company. There is nothing worse than trying to get into the industry knowing you are harming others who also want a chance.
The price to sign up apparently went up because it is now $995 plus the $19.95 per month. I don't think the money is as detrimental to these young people as is selling a dream that most likely will never come true and possibly killing that dream altogether.
Furthermore, these potential models were spoken to rudely in the final evaluation which is apparently part of the deal. We were told not to say thank you, no idle conversation and not too much smiling at them. The idea is to look like you are a cut throat scout only interested in true talent. Appearing aggressive gives the company power and makes the potentials more desperate to join. Being too nice appears needy.
The reality is they know how to manipulate these people. Wilhelmina gives stats on the number of jobs they placed; ask how many people are on the network and divide that by the number of jobs. There would lie the real stats.
Don't forget to omit the crappy jobs that don't pay...you'll find they are also included in these stats. I want to thank rip off reports for their responsible reporting and ecourage anyone out there to DO THEIR HOMEWORK.
I was told one scout didn't make any money because she was telling people to do their homework. The director told us NOT to say this. Apparently they know the "homework" is not in their favor. I went in as a scout very excited and lasted 3 days and I had a higher show rate for the open call in my first day than all the other scouts except one. The director called me asking me how I did it. "I'm honest and real with people" is what I told her. This is going to be my same response when she asks me why I am leaving the company. Good luck to all!
Anonymous Former Scout
Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Trans Continental Talent AKA Options TalentClick here to read other Rip Off Reports on Wilhelmina