I worked for Billy Powell, president of US Talent Management, recently. The job lasted no more than three weeks once I began to see beyond the surface. Having worked for Model 411 Management in Manhattan and knowing the history behind Wilhelmina Scouting Network, Options Talent, Trans Continental etc; I was very skeptical when I saw the "Scouting Coordinator/Sales Assistant" position available. Billy Powell, President of US Talent Management
Being new to Rochester and wanting to work somehwere in the entertainment industry, I attended the interview. It was very short and in fact, he talked about himself and the company and never even asked me any real questions.
I was then asked a few additional questions via e-mail and he also told me I was amongst the "preferred candidates." I later found out I was the ONLY candidate. I was then offered the position, also via e-mail. Billy never even called.
When I went in for my first day, I was told that I would make $8/hour to start. This was rather insulting considering I have a Bachelors degree and several years of experience, however, the next part made it seem a bit more credible and I needed the job. I would be reviewed after 30 days and then again after 90 days and if everything was "perfect" in those reviews, I would get a raise each time...he said I COULD be up to $10/hour by the 90 day mark. Then came the first big red flag. I would be working as an independent contractor. Anyone familiar with modeling ripoffs know where this is going. Long story short, a contractor is responsible for taking out and paying their own taxes and Social Security. They must also pretend to be a business that has been contracted to do work. Obviously, there is no chance for benefits, because you are not technically employed by that company.
Finally, you are supposed to be given duties and complete them on your own time schedule as well as when and where you choose. Instead, I was given set hours (Mon.-Fri. app. 33 hours/week), given a desk in a shared office and told I had to be there to complete the work the way he wanted it completed. So, essentially, I was an employee being paid in a manner where he would get a lot without having to pay much of anything...illegally.
In summary, I was then told I had to SELL SELL SELL! After I met with potential models, he would choose who we wanted to "represent" (any and all that seemed like they could pay), I would set up a meeting between him and the potential talent, and he would "accept" them and sell them a VERY expensive photo/web package - required in order for US Talent to represent you.
After that...you guessed it, VERY FEW EVER WOULD GET ANY KIND OF WORK. When the occassional model would get a call, it would be to attend an audition. They may or may not get the job and, if they did, Billy would get the check. He would then take his 20% commission and allegedly put the rest in a high-interest-gaining account for FIVE-SIX MONTHS before paying the talent.
In January, a few people called looking for checks from work they did over the SUMMER! I was then asked to attend a pageant on a Sunday afternoon where, I found out, I would have to judge (that's all I thought I had to do at first) and also set up a huge display and table where I would sit, solicit potential "models", and get people to sign up for a chance to win a "free photo shoot," which I am quite sure did not exist. Instead, it was a way to get names and numbers so we could SELL SELL SELL even more. Oh, and I would not be paid extra for doing this. Another part of my job was upselling. Once people broke the bank for their "big shot," they were then strong-armed into buying a portfolio book and as many prints as possible to fill it...everything at severely high prices. If they wanted a CD (worth 50 cents) with some of their pictures on it for personal use, it would cost $100!
Finally, I quit and told Billy exactly how I felt. The job was not what I had imagined and I could not stand ripping people off. I was doing his dirty work and making him big money. I then submitted an invoice for my time worked and waited several weeks for the check. When it arrived, it was $37.50 short. I can only assume that the deductions were for a stupid $5.50 stamper with my name on it so he could have me use generic business cards (all his idea) and for four hours that I worked at home early in my last week (I got his approval, presented a lot of completed work, should have legally been allowed to as a contractor, and was needed at home to wait for a plumber as our basement was flooded) He had no problem paying for any of this until I quit.
I e-mailed him about a week ago when the check arrived and a check for the missing funds never came...big surprise! My advice to anyone considering "modeling" or "acting" with US Talent or working for Billy, is DON'T! Run as fast as you can and realize that this guy is all about bad business...he wants your money, NOT your talent! If you would like more references on this type of business, do searches on "Wilhelmina Scouting Network", "Options Talent", "Trans Continental Talent" and "Lou Pearlman" on this site or any search engine.
Beware...not everything is as glamorous as it seems...not even close!
Rochester, New York
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Emodel Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Trans Continental Talent AKA Options Talent Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on TcTalent Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Wilhelmina