• Report: #659762
Complaint Review:

Carolina Talent

  • Submitted: Mon, November 08, 2010
  • Updated: Thu, August 18, 2011

  • Reported By: Mantis — Ithaca New York United States of America
Carolina Talent
1230 West Morehead Street Internet United States of America

Carolina Talent CT Model/Talent Agency Scam Charlotte, Internet

*General Comment: Parent of CT model/actor

*General Comment: CT is legit

*REBUTTAL Individual responds: Complaint against our company is misguided and incorrect

*Consumer Comment: Just a question for you re: Carolina Talent

*Author of original report: Correcting an error

*Author of original report: Payment

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Carolina Talent, headed my Mandy Silla, immediately gave me the impression of the typical scam agency. It had all the typical warning signs: open calls on weekends, absurd fees of $60-$100 for mandatory "orientation" meetings for new models, and dramatic ultimatums that models have lots of photos taken, printed, and put online (at 800casting.com - probably another scam organization they collude with). 

Nevertheless, at the time I worked for them I was a college student with nothing to lose except a couple hundred dollars, and the agency did seem to have some redeeming qualities. The biggest was that I was quickly befriended by a gentleman there named Lee Taylor, who despite the company's suspicious qualities did in fact seem genuinely interested in working for me. For instance he spent an entire day with me styling me for 7 different looks, all with his own clothes and makeup, and took well over a thousand pictures free of charge. He also got me one single paying job (more than most of their models seem to get) though it has been over 3 months since I did the shoot and no money has been sent. 

. [continued below]....

In fact, however, the advertising agency (Lippi & Co.) with whom I worked was completely legitimate, and has produced very real ads, as can seen on their website thehttp://www.lippi.com/main.html

However, I made many friends while working there, and I learned that my good fortune was not shared by all. In fact many who joined at the same time as me have been coerced to pay well over $1,000 already for such expenses as "getting marketable photos taken" (which are actually taken by a CT employee at $125 per set, and a total of 3 sets are required). While the agency claims they don't profit from these shoots this is rather transparently untrue, since the supposedly "3rd party professional photographer" who took mine ('Jerry'), also doubles as an agent and publicist, and can be seen at his desk during the work day. 

Other charges typical of a photo mill scam also exist. Composite Cards are expected of models for another fee, and portfolios are also printed and assembled there for over $100 dollars. Models are constantly prodded to get both of these. Lastly, a number of monthly clinics and information sessions are offered, usually for a fee of $65, and are run by employees.

Most unfortunate of all, while many of the other individuals my age quickly realized that they were unlikely to earn back the amount of money they paid, I saw that a lot of the agency's work is focused on bringing in children and their parents. While I cannot personally attest to whether or not any child models there ever saw work, I can say that I observed lots of naive parents paying large sums of money to have their children's photos taken, and I doubt that they will get much or any of it back. Several friends I met there repeatedly tried calling their "agents" to ask for more attention, and were scolded for being too pushy, or told that they needed more experience working. 

I continue to get almost daily emails from Mandy designed to resound well with parents and despite some egregious spelling/grammar mistakes sound fairly professional. Here is an example from one of her typical "email blasts sent out three days ago:

You must be under contract with us in order for us to market you.Contract siging takes place Monday evening. $65 fee applies...

Questions regarding the orientation fee, it covers mailings, visits to clients on your behalf(gas) and assorted other task we do on your behalf.Hosting showcases, we feed the clients afterwards. 
Again, not a service you will find at other agencies,us, we provide this for you, why? Because you are WORTH IT"

I think it is worth mentioning that I have since gotten representation by one of the largest cadillac agencies in New York City, and if Carolina Talent has shown interest in you, it is possible that you can as well. However, if I can offer any advice from my experiences with this agency, it is to not be fooled by their nearly-legitimate facade. What is dangerous about this organization is that they are essentially barely legal. They seem to maintain just enough connections with real clients to present themselves as a real company to the authorities, but rest assured that nearly all of their profit comes not from marketing their models but exploiting them. A friend I made in the agency called the Charlotte Better Business Bureau to report them, only to find out they are apparently approved. Regardless, having worked on the inside, and personally given away my own money, I seriously caution anybody thinking about working them to heed the warning signs. To date, nobody I have met or worked with from Carolina Talent has been paid any money at all, myself included. 

The bottom line:

Carolina Talent is first and foremost a scam agency, and despite the incredibly friendly staff who will work overtime to convince you otherwise, they simply don't have the resources to launch anybody's career as an actor or model. 

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/08/2010 07:30 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/carolina-talent/internet/carolina-talent-ct-modeltalent-agency-scam-charlotte-internet-659762. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 General Comment

Parent of CT model/actor

AUTHOR: Connie Cilley - (United States of America)

I am the parent of a CT model/actor child.  My child has been sent on numerous auditions and has booked several jobs.  She was paid by CT very promptly.  We have never been asked by anyone at CT to have our pics done by CT staff.  When we came in, CT staff loved our photos and have never tried to sell us photos.  They did recently ask for us to update our photos but they never stated that our photos needed to be taken by CT staff.  Our photos are taken by a GA photographer that I chose, and CT has never given me any problems with use of the photos.  My child did make enough money last year to reimburse me completely for the costs of comp cards, pics and the $20 fee to 800 casting.
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#2 General Comment

CT is legit

AUTHOR: AEK - (United States of America)

In an industry that can't be trusted where it seems that anyone and everyone are out to scam you to take your money, I can assure you that Carolina Talent is not one of those agencies.

The photoshoot for "professional photos" with Jerry never costs $1,000, maybe $500 at most, which if you check the rates of any half decent photographer, you'll see that's an average rate.  Jerry does have a computer in CT's office but that's because he's CT's photographer.  He does own his own business but only works with CT models.  You'll find a lot of agencies in NYC, L.A., Milan, Paris and London all have in house photographers who handle their New Faces models test shoots so that they'll have a book, internet portfolio and composite(comp) cards for that market.  Models, any half decent one anyway, are constantly testing and after building a reputation for themselves(the model), most photographers are willing to test shoot for free.  Besides, this photoshoot isn't mandantory and CT doesn't force you to do the shoot, they only offer the opportunity.

800casting and composite(comp) cards are a mandantory need for any model/actor.  You need a portfolio, comp card and book so that an agency(any agency not just CT) can market you to their clients, how else will the clients see you?  Casting calls are held but if the client of CT wants to see professional images of you then CT will send them your 800casting profile.  CT doesn't make any money off of your 800casting page, they only use it as a marketing tool for their models/actors and tons of agencies use 800casting.

The $65 dollars for orientation, if you had paid attention, is to cover shipping costs when CT send your composite cards to clients or send digital snap shots on your behalf to other agencies in varying markets.

Lippi & Co. is a legitimate advertising firm and if you've been in the modeling/acting world for more then two seconds you would know sometimes clients of agencies are slow to pay.  Most agencies allow 6 weeks for their clients to pay them for a job.  It is customary for any model to wait 3 months before getting paid. I know of some European models who've waited 8 months before getting paid for a job.

The bottom line is that CT is a legitimate agency.  I modeled with them for a year and a half, I took part in over 20 fashion shows, took part in Belk catalogue shoots and even had a shoot with Lippi & Co.  Once I was ready and showed the drive CT marketed me to agencies in NYC, where I was then signed by one of the top ten modeling agencies in the nation, Fusion Model Management.

It is ok to be suspicious and guarded.  But make sure that what you're saying is true before you bad mouth someone and their livelyhood.  Modeling is like anything else, you only get out of it what you put into it.  If you work hard at it and you take the time to get to know all the bookers and interns at CT then you will become successful if you have a little patience, people skills, the look and a solid work ethic.  Modeling is also like any entrepreneurship, you have to put money into it before you get any money out of it.  Any small business owner will tell you that they had to lose money to make their investment in their business before they ever saw a return(income gain).  When you become a model you are your own business, always know that.  No agency can control you and the contract you sign with an agency is only as good as the paper it's printed on and we all know paper burns and tears quite easily.  I hope this helps.
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#3 REBUTTAL Individual responds

Complaint against our company is misguided and incorrect

AUTHOR: mandy silla - (United States of America)

Unfortunately as often is the case like the young man who has lodged this report against us, he is not informed and speaks clearly from perception. Our company, has been in business since 1963. We would ove everyone that we represent to work but that is not always the case. Being around since 1963 if we are a scam do you not think some one would have caught on by now!!!We have a roister of over five hundred clients that we work with, that can verify that we book models and actors daily.

It is standard practice to hold a once a month or week model call to see new talent. This is the norm in the industry and the way all agencies see talent.We are very fortunate that the talent we see while large in number are seeking thoughts regarding their career in this industry. We do not select all that we see but a small number who we feel qualfied. For those who have marketing materials,reels,photos,headshots and resumes, we enlist them to take advantage of an electronic submission system Tas800, an industry standartd used by casting agencies and clients alike.If the talent who has a look or talent but no materials they may seek marketing materials wherever they choose,but being mindful that they are CT worthy. We can not use candid photos,bridal pics or glamour shots. We must use industry standart type pictures. The young man who has made his observation here in Ripoff report paid $125 for a shoot that included hair,stylist for wardrobe,and for make-up if needed. Additionally he was with us a little over six hours. For $125, photographer, and assistants on the job tosupport,coach and assist him, I'd say he received a bargain. He failed to mention he brought shots in that we were able to use, but he lacked anything out of doors,we went on to contact additional photographers on his behalf and he received more shoots at no cost to him.

As the young man has stated he did receive money for the job he booked, he did not provide us with a forwarding address and the check was sent to an uncle. He was sent verification of this and has since corrected his statement.Speaking of kids and how he feels that we are not a company that has any real contacts,I encourage him to view our sucess story page,check our report at BBB which is A plus and do a lot more home work before you bash a company and you have no idea how an agency runs. I think the big problem here is EGO, you expected to work, often, when you were told you would be given no promiseof that,then you decided to bash us. I have checked with the Cadillac agencies in NY and none of them represent you,I think this is more evidence that you are angry and disappointed that you did not get more work, us too, we make money when you do, but, we choose to take the high road here and know that we do the right thing, miight I suggest you really research how things work before you publish them for all to see. These are your personal feelings that come from your own disappointment,you know in your heart that we did all that we could do to work with you to make you a success.

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#4 Consumer Comment

Just a question for you re: Carolina Talent

AUTHOR: JL84 - (United States of America)

Hi. I just read your report on here and it struck my eye because I'm actually seeking representation with Carolina Talent. They want to represent me and after reading your report I was wondering if I should look else where. I saw that you did make corrections and added comments to the report but does that change your mind about someone being represented there? I'ma commerical/print female model and I wouldn't want this to be a waste of my time or money. Any advice you can give I will thoroughly appreciate. I've heard many good things about them and that's why I submitted myself to them. Thanks so much.

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#5 Author of original report

Correcting an error

AUTHOR: Mantis - (United States of America)

I was also contacted by Jerry recently at which time I found out that he is not in fact employed by Carolina Talent, but only rents space in the same building and works alongside them. Therefore the earlier information about his role with the company was wholly incorrect. 
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#6 Author of original report


AUTHOR: Mantis - (United States of America)

To follow up, I recently contacted the agency and was subsequently paid for the work I did there.
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