On June 2, 2003 I was approached at the Old Navy store located at Keystone at the Crossing area by an attractive woman introducing herself as a representative for Wilhemina Modeling Agency. She politely asked if I had ever modeled before and told me that I had a "great look" and "stunning eyes". I was floored and completely taken off guard by this. I'd never been "scouted" before nor did I feel like I had model qualities. Sure, I've been told that I am pretty, but just because you're told that doesn't mean you should run out and try to become a model!
She invited me to an "open call", however, she did not use that term. She gave me a business card of a Ms. Jane Patrick, Director of Talent Development, which she scribbled some info on the back and said I would need this card to get in to the open call that week. I left the store completely flattered that I had actually been noticed by a real-life talent scout! Little did I know!
I attended the open call two days later. We were told to "dress nicely, bring snapshots, and plan on being there for about two hours." I arrived at 6:00 PM, on the dot. I checked in, filled out some general paperwork, gave my measurements, had some digital photos taken, and proceeded to the "waiting room" where they were kind enough to let us watch "Spiderman" - that should have been my first clue that this was going to be a long evening. The office had NO air conditioning and we were all stuffed into a very small waiting area.
Finally, around 8:00 PM, some obnoxious, loud, overgrown woman entered the room, introducing herself to the group -she was the Director of Talent Development and she had the personality of the wicked witch of the east. She ran through all the aspects of modeling, how to become a model, what agencies look for in a model, etc. And then she turned on some music so she could watch us "walk the runway". She called off each name and each person had to walk the runway, do a turn, smile, and sit down. It was ridiculous.
Then we watched a video about the scouting network and the grand merge with Trans Continental Talent, with CEO Lou Pearlman (criminal). I suppose we were supposed to be impressed? I had never been in a situation quite like this one, therefore, I was naive and had no idea what to expect. I had my suspicions but I was just so excited about the potential though of becoming a local model.
After the video we were told that one on one interviews would begin and they would be "short". By now it is 9:15PM and there were still approx. 20 people waiting to do one on one inerviews. I hadn't eaten dinner, I was burning up, and I was tired. This was no longer worth it so I politely thanked the scouts for the opportunity but explained that I was going to leave. They insisted I stay, and they got me in for the next interview. I interviewd with Janice - if you can call it an interview. She had me turn sideways to see my profile, smile to see my teeth, looked at my snapshots, asked me if I was able to travel, and that was it. NO mention of money involved whatsoever. She said I had a beautiful look and she was going to schedule a phone interview with a talent executive from the corporate office for the following evening.
Prior to my interview I as to read thoroughly the pamphlet given to me explaining Wilhelmina in more detail. The next day I did just that. And amongst the fine print I saw where it said, "Please be prepared to make a decision about payment during your phone interview". Payment? What payment? I read further. In the section titled "FAQ's" I read "How much does it cost to post your digital composite on the website?" The answer $995 up front, and $19.95 per month.
My bubble had been burst. You know the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is? There was no way I was going to pay anyone that amount of money for the possibility of getting recognized. No guarantee, no money back, nothing. You're paying for exposure - that's it. And if they scout as many people as they say they do, who is to say that your face will stand out from the thousands, if not millions of faces in the Wilhelmina database?
When the talent executive called me the following evening, he introduced himself and was extremely kind and laid back. He proceeded to start the interview when I interrupted, asking if I could ask a few questions first. He said 'sure'. I asked about the money and financial obligation. He became very annoyed and short with his answers, almost sarcastic and mean. The tables had turned, and now I was the one conducting the interview, and asking all the tough questions.
I told him that I didn't want to waste his time or my time, and that there was no explanation of money at the open call. I explained that if the financial obligation had been explained I certainly would not have wasted an entire evening, sitting in a non-air conditioned room, for over three hours. I explained that I was not willing or prepared to pay for their services. He said he had never come across this situation before and that no one had ever passed up this opportunity. He said that I obviously did not have the ambition or drive that Wilhelmina was looking for because if I did I would pay the money. I politely thanked him for his time and hung up the phone. He was obviously very annoyed with me and was eager to get off the phone after realizing that I saw through his sales pitch.
I have been bothered by this since it happened. I decided to do some research today on the internet and I found this website along with several others, explaining how Wilhelmina is a total scam. I thought I would share my story in hopes that someone (maybe in the Indianapolis) area would also read it and maybe it will help someone save some money and realize that this is not what they want you to believe it is. It's not glamorous. It's not big fashion modeling. It's a scam. Bottom line.
Shoppers beware! The scouts are everywhere. If someone tells you that you have "the look", tell them to look again. And don't fall into their manipulative trap. Walking away was the best decision I could have made. Get the word out there - share your stories, contact your local news, contact the Better Business Bureau, shout it from the rooftops. Search the internet and you will find all the complaints and negative remarks about this company that claims to make dreams come true. Think again! And good luck!
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Wilhelmina STOP! ..before you think about using the Better Business Bureau (BBB)... CLICK HERE to see how other consumers were victimized by the BBB's false or misleading information. Don't be fooled! It has been reported, when there are thousands of complaints and other investigations underway by authorities, the BBB has no choice but to finally give an UNsatisfactory rating to a BBB member business that is paying the BBB big membership fees every year. When a business is reported that is NOT a BBB member, BBB files WILL more likely show an UNsatisfactory rating, then reportedly shake down that company to become a member of the BBB. One positive thing about the BBB is, either way, if a business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB, you can be sure, the business is bad. But what about all those BBB member businesses that had complaints filed against them? Consumers never get to hear about them. What about the BBB advertising to the public? Is this a false and misleading perception they are giving about consumer confidence when dealing with a business? Click here to understand more of what consumers and business alike are saying about the BBB. You decide. ..Remember. The BBB membership is not earned, its paid for!