Well, I have to say that I am humiliated that I even have to write this report. I am one of those people who would've liked to think that I could not be scammed. I was wrong.
I signed with Empire Talent and Models in February of 2008. I am a former model from another state, and when I moved to Arizona and started a family, I saw an ad on Craigslist about an upcoming Pampers Commercial. I gave her a call and set up an appointment the following week for my daughter and myself.
At this meeting, I met with the "Agent", - one in charge, MARISA SCLFANI. She proceeded to give me her song and dance about how "real" agencies never ask you to pay any money, and she doesn't. She also told me how she was one of only a few "licensed" agencies in the state. She did tell me that I would have to have some photos taken, but she was very smooth by also saying that I didn't HAVE to use her suggested photographer. But, after explaining how her photographer knew what her casting needs were, I figured that I might as well use her photographer rather than try to go find one on my own. I had to pay $1400 to have photos taken for both my daughter and me. It has since been reported that Marisa keeps the lion's share of that money. That is where she gets her money.
We were signed with her for over a year and didn't receive a SINGLE call for a job...even after I called and emailed her asking what was going on. She will just go on and on about how "she is suhmitting me us all the time....it's just that she has to wait on casting to pick you up....yada yada yada...." I signed up with her because it was something special that I could do with my daughter, and the hopeful side of me wanted to believe her.
Today was the final straw. I FINALLY got a call from her office manager, Kelly, telling me that I was chosen to audition for a commercial and that I needed to come in for 15 minutes to do a quick video audition. I explained that I could not come in on that day because I was out of town. Kelly explained that it was okay and I could still come in the next day at 1:00 for a video audition because they would still have the equipment and time to do it for one more day.
So....I figured out a way to have my family taken care of, researched the company online (as requested by Kelly) so that I knew what to answer on the video audition, and drove the 50 minutes to Scottsdale for this quick audition...because to me it was still worth the possible opportunity.
I arrived to the office, greeted by Kelly, and was told to please have a seat and Marisa would be with me in a moment. I waited, and sure enough, Marisa came in and said, "Well, hi! So, you are here for the....." and paused like she had no idea. I had to tell her what job I was there for. She said, "Oh, well, I needed you here yesterday." I explained that I spoke with Kelly the day before and that she told me to come in today for a 1:00 audition because there was still time.
Marisa just said, "Oh wow. I already submitted those last night. I don't even have the camera to tape anymore."
At this point, Kelly slipped away into her office. Oops.
Marisa thought it was sufficient enough to just place the blame on her secretary (who, yes, was partially at fault to schedule an appointment before even checking to make sure that it was even possible). But, what about Marisa? She is the "Agent-in-charge" here. What kind of professional, a woman who runs a business, can let that happen? How did she not find out, when doing her check with her office manager that morning about the day's schedule, that the 1:00 appointment didn't make any sense to her? Hey, she is getting her money when people sign with her with her scam. Who needs to even find out who is coming to see and her why? What kind of professional is that??? For goodness sakes, her office manager's office is TWO FEET from her office door, and they didn't even communicate that day's schedule to see that there was a problem.
I was angry enough when I realized that I was scammed... Now it is even more upsetting to realize that there is absolutely NO professionalism with these people. They just DON'T CARE. She tried to simply smile and say, "Oops", tell me how "adorable" I am and how she submits me everyday, and shoo me out the door.
It was then that I came home and checked online for any scam reports on her. At the time that I signed with her a year ago, there weren't any (Yep, I checked). Now, within the past year, I see five. I also see that their stories are exact replicas of my own.
It's interesting to see Marisa's rebuttal to one of the claims. She says how "unfortunate" it is to see people lying about what happened to them. Well, I'm here to ask, if it is such a lie, how is it that my story of how you scammed me is EXACTLY the same as the way that you scammed these others? Did we all just happen to make up the EXACT same story???
I know that there is nothing that I can do to stop Marisa and what she is doing to innocent people out there, but if reading this report can stop one more mother from signing up herself or children (as something special to do with them, etc.), saving up and spending money that her family didn't really have to throw around--only to be humiliatingly scammed....then writing this is worth it.
Luckily, my year's contract is up with her, and needless to say, I am opting out of any sort of extention.
Marisa--I'm not sure exactly how you sleep at night knowing that this is how you make your living. I'm sure that, after reading this, you will simply roll your eyes and go back to counting how ever much you made today, but know that you are affecting people's lives here. I may not be rich, but my family is strong, and we live an honest life. I hope that you can one day say the same for your own.
To the others out there, don't let the nice Scottsdale office and the big promising words fool you. I was actually modeling successfully in another state before I moved here and signed with her. Then suddenly, I was trapped in a contract--and therefore turning away other agencies who WERE reputable and wanting to sign me--because I was already committed to Empire Talent and Models. I lost an entire year of modeling/acting income, and I'm doing the only thing that I can to try to save you from the same fate. Run....don't walk....away from this business and this woman, and best of luck finding the right agency for you. This one ISN'T it.