Explore Talent Explore Talent Scam Info Who Knows Internet
I just spoke with someone who could barely speak english, presenting himself as a casting director from Explore Talent. He sounded like an immigrant who had never had any professional experience in the world of talent, and was very hypey, complimenting me and asking about how I was feeling and if I was actually serious about acting or modeling, as if he really cared. In the background I could hear dozens of other voices chattering away incessantly. It sounded like a boiler room operation right from the start, and that's never a good sign.
This individual started telling me that I was guaranteed to get roles because of my age and my good looks. When I questioned what he meant by guaranteed, he insisted that he would guarantee that I would be chosen because of the connections that he personally had with other casting directors and because he was so experienced in matching people for roles. He then told me that, oops, he wouldn't be able to submit me after all because he just noticed that I had never activated my account when I filled my information in on the website. He explained that all I needed to so was to activate my profile so he could submit me and then I could start making money by going to auditions he would send me on, starting this week.
I explained the reason that I most likely did not activate my account was that they had most likely asked for some amount of money at some point in the application process for their free service. He ignored this and went back to asking if I was really serious about getting started in acting and modeling, and then tried turning the tables by asking me why he take his valuable time to work with me, and what qualities did I have that made me think I could succeed as an actor or model. His ploys were very transparent, and I told him I really didn't know, he had called me and I didn't even know who he was. I also told him I was thinking about getting some training and taking some acting lessions.
He got a bit excited and told me that I didnt' need to waste any time taking any acting classes, that I could start making money like so many other people were right now just by showing up for auditions that he would send me on. He then told me the only think he would tell me to do to improve my chances of getting parts was to dye my salt & pepper hair. That would make me look 20 years younger. I said I thought he had told me only minutes earlier that it would be easy for me to get so many parts because there was so much demand for older gentlemen, and because of this I would be easy to place. He threw a bunch of words at me that was just so much double talk for a few minutes, talking about how there was so much demand for roles of men in their 50's and there were even better roles for men in their 30's if I wanted to land those roles, and he was only giving me options for which kind of roles I wanted to audition for.
Eventually, the conversation got back to the issue of activating my account. and, of course, activation meant giving him money. I explained that I had been unemployed for a year and a half at this point, and it just didn't make a lot of sense to me that I should get a call from a stranger out of the blue on this particular afternoon, who then wanted me to send him money based on some pretty questionable claims he had made during a 5 minute conversation; and that I would like to do a bit of research before spending money that I really didn't have to determine the veracity of what he had been telling me.
He then began claiming that money was already guaranteed for me just by going to the auditions that he was going to send me to. When I asked what in the world he meant by that, he told me that I would be paid $200 just to go to an audition, and some 5-day auditions would pay me up to $2,000. These were pretty absurd and outrageous claims, and simply isn't the way the auditioning process works in any field.
Of course, to the unknowledgeable, they can easily fall prey for someone like this who claims to be someone connected and important and who promises to pay them significant money to simply show up somewhere. People who are unaware of how things work are open to be educated, and if the person who is educating them happens to lie to them in order to gain their trust so he can get his hands into their pockets, it is only to his benefit to do so. But to believe a stranger you've never met, have no way of determining his true identity, have no way to verify any connections or reputation in the industry that he has, and so on, is pure foolhardiness. But rather than end the call I decided to see how far he was willing to bend and to come up with new stories in his attempt to persuade me and get what he was really after, easy money from an easy mark, from me.
I explained that I had never heard of people being paid to audition for anything, the investment in time, talent-development, coaching, etc. was always the responsibilty of the individual in any area of the fine arts as far back as recorded history goes. As a musician for many years, I had been through the audition process many times for everything from wedding bands, orchestras, to rock bands and lounge acts, and indeed, auditions were never paid affairs.
He countered by telling me that I had never dealt with Explore Talent, and again asserted that any audition that Explore Talent sent me on, I would be paid for when I showed up.
He began asking me for a decision, asking me if I was really serious, and started telling me that he had an important meeting to go to where he was required to provide the names of individuals that he was submitting for the auditions that were coming up this week and next. Of course, his entire ruse was designed to create a sense of urgency and to make me feel that I would somehow lose out on an important opportunity if I didn't sign up right here and now. The creation of this sense of urgency and instilling the sense of loss if one doesn't get involved is simply a tactic many con artists use, and often this alone is enough to create enough internal pressure within someone, the fear of losing out on something they really want, to make them give someone their money.
With this guy, I simply asked what the rush was...? Didnt' he tell me that they have roles coming along all the time...? Didn't he tell me that they were the biggest talent agency in the country...? Did I misunderstand something...? What was so important that I had to get back to him within the next 25 minutes if I wanted to be considered for these guaranteed roles that they had so many of...? One bogus testimonial claimed that had over 10,000 parts that needed to be auditioned for every month... when I mentioned this, he said that yes, that was true... so, again, I asked what was so urgent that he needed a decision from me immediately...?
I explained that I wanted to do a bit of research and find out more about Explore Talent. To this, he excitedly offered to show me more about the agency himself and asked me to go to my computer and log onto their website. He had me go to a testimonial page and thought that that would be certain to convince me that they were a valid talent agency based the list of bogus individuals all apparently praising Explore Talent with many making far-fetched claims of having gotten lead roles on their first audition, and so on.
I told him I didn't know who these people were and if they actually existed or even made the claims. To this he asked me to go to the resources page. On this page, there was a list of categories of people who hire actors. Somehow this was supposed to convince me that Explore Talent does business and supplies talent for all these various entities. The idea being, oddly enough, that simply having this list on their site was supposed to somehow grant them credibility.
Now, exactly why being given a tour of a bogus company's website by someone from the company who's trying to get money out of my pocket, in any way would indicate that the company had any credibility at all, I found myself wondering, yet this is what this individual wanted me to believe.
I indicated once again that I intended to do my own research and to contact some of the people who had given testimonials directly. Once again he started asking just how long did I need...? Would I promise to get back to him in the next 25 minutes...? Again I asked him what was so important that I get back to him in 25 minutes and again he brought up the upcoming meeting gambit, where he had to submit his names for upcoming auditions at...
I told him that there was no way I could promise to get back to him in the next 25 minutes, as I simply had no way of knowing how long it was going to take to contact these individuals, if they were home, or how long it would take for them to respond to me. To this, he asked if I could promise to get back to him within the next hour...? After explaining to him again that I did not know how long it would take to contact these individuals or for them to respond, he asked if I could promise to get back to him within 4 hours...? At that point I thanked him for his time and told him I'd get back to him if I wanted to use their services.
As soon as I got him off the phone, I looked around the site a bit and found they did not list any address where they are located at all. There was no phone number to their office, only an 800 number to a customer service center, and no list of any individuals associated with the company, such as president, vice president, marketing director, manager, etc. So, essentially there was no way to contact anyone at the company directly, and they were operating very much anonymously. That itself should speak volumes about their total lack of credibility to anyone who goes to their website.
I then did a quick search on Google for Explore Talent. The first two websites I checked out both claimed that the service is a scam. The agency is apparently run by one Blake Yoon, a con-artist who had been convicted, and has done prison time. For me, that was as much as I needed to see.
You may want to do a Google search on Explore Talent or on Blake Yoon yourself, before giving your money to anyone from this company. Just a suggestion.