Updated Mar. 17, 2015
Do you have big plans of becoming the next Hollywood star?
Do you or your cute child have a talent you want to turn into fame and fortune?
What’s the first step on your road to stardom? Paying to hire a talent service?
If that’s your answer, the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs has a warning for you: your first step might turn into an expensive fall.
Real talent agents or scammers?
Legitimate talent representatives do not to ask their clients for upfront money. They get paid by taking a percentage of a performer’s salary. Your success is their success.
Unfortunately, some would-be talent service providers/agents are less concerned about your career aspirations. They want your money, right away, up-front, before the lights and cameras get flipped on.
They advertise their services in trade papers and talent-listing websites. Links point you to fancy sites with pictures of great success stories and promises to make you the next superstar, as long as you pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in advance.
If a talent agent or talent manager charges you for photographs, acting classes or auditions, consider that an immediate warning sign.
“You must investigate before you pay a penny or sign a contract,” said DCBA supervising investigator Morine Merritt. “Consumers must be very suspicious of any talent service, manager or agent who asks you to pay fees for any reason.”
Here are some tips to help you separate the legitimate talent services companies from a possible scammer:
- Research businesses extensively: Use the Internet and social media to find out what others are saying. Network face-to-face with others to find out first-hand which places can legitimately help talented people.
- Do not pay for representation: Legitimate agents and managers will not charge you for headshot photos, auditions, or acting classes, or demand that you use a particular photographer or teacher as a condition to be represented by them. Find a good photographer or take the classes you, not others, choose.
- Know that your contract gives you rights: If you sign a contract with a talent service, you have 10 business days to cancel the contract for a full refund. Unless the contract says otherwise, you have a right to a pro rata refund after that. If the talent service does not clearly notify you about your right to cancel, you may do so at any time for a full refund. Your contract can be for no more than one year and it cannot automatically renew.
- Make sure a talent service is licensed and bonded: Talent services, including training services, counseling services and listing services, are regulated in California. They are required to post a $50,000 bond with the State Department of Industrial Relations.
- Be realistic: Just like with any business, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No one can guarantee results, certainly when to comes to succeeding in show business. For helpful tips, contact the Screen Actors Guild or www.bizparentz.org.
- File a complaint with us: If you have been victimized by a talent service, contact us and we will help you. We know the rights and responsibilities of businesses and consumers and can make sure everyone is playing by the proper rules.
If you have questions about talent services or any consumer issues, contact us at 800.593.8222.