There are those people who are out to take advantage of an actor trying to make it in this crazy busy. So, how do you spot scams and not get caught spending tons of money on something that will NOT help you at all? Read on…
Here’s the thing, in the world we live in today it’s commonplace for scammers to try and get away with anything and everything. In the acting industry, it’s almost standard. Why? Because people know that actors are hungry! They know that actors want it so bad and will do just about anything to make it in this business and that makes them vulnerable. And they know that it’s hard; it’s really, really hard to “make it.” Consequently, they see this as an opportunity to make some cash off a vulnerable actor that trust too much. And it works every… single… day.
Here are some of the things to look out for so this doesn’t happen to YOU!
- If anyone EVER ask you for money upfront to represent you or get you work… run! Every actor wants to hear they are beyond talented or “special” or “unique.” It triggers us into automatically thinking that this person believes in us, and we crave that as an artist. But the unkind truth is we’re not that special. There are a thousands of actors and hundreds of very skilled actors. However, when someone comes at us with compliments and tells us all the things we want to hear, we get excited and let our guard down. I’ve seen it happen so many times. Here’s the hard truth, when someone is trying to scam you, they will tell you whatever they think you want to hear. NO LEGITIMATE AGENT WILL EVER ASK FOR MONEY UPFRONT. Did you read that?? It’s worth another pass… NO LEGITIMATE AGENT WILL EVER ASK FOR MONEY UPFRONT. An agent’s job is to get you work so they get paid because they only get paid if you do! So, if someone pitches you with, “all you have to do is pay us $2,000 and we guarantee you we will get you in front the right casting directors” … RUN! First, there are no guarantees in this business, EVER! Or if a company is asking for an ungodly amount of money to get you in front of agents and managers, again run!
- Here’s a new scam I’ve seen lately and it’s a good one! So, you see an ad for a print job, and it mentions is pays $5,000 if you book. Wow! That’s a lot of money or a few hours of work! So, on a whim, you submit and guess what?? They love you and want to work with you. The next email you receive is one telling you how much they LOVE your look and how much they want to work with you. Then the ramble of some important information about who they are, who the client is and who they’ve worked with in the past and how this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you. Have they gotcha hooked yet? They probably do. Either 1, Because you’re new and don’t know any better, or 2, Because we’re actors and we LOVE to hear how great we are. But, they already have you, so when you read the next part of the email, it doesn’t cause a red flag for you. The next part is…. they tell you that they need YOU to fork over the upfront cost of the wardrobe they are going to have to purchase for you. Makes sense to you right? I mean, they only want the best for you and their shoot with their most coveted client, right? And you’re going to get the money back, plus some, after the booking, right? So, what happens when you send them the $1,500 for the wardrobe needed for this shoot? Yep, you never hear from said person again. But isn’t this how it works? NO!!! This is NOT how it works!!! No legitimate booking is going to ask for money from you! When you’re hired as an actor or sometimes model, they PAY YOU and take care of everything for you. Don’t get so caught up in the dream that you lose your common sense!!
- If it sounds too good to be true… IT IS!! It’s the golden rule of life, isn’t it? Well, it should be. Now, I’m not saying there are not some great opportunities that will come your way. There will be. But it’s usually going to come to you because you’ve put in the work and put yourself in a position to meet the right people. However, if a person you don’t know, whom you’ve never met, all the sudden wants to fly you to Australia and make you a star for a low upfront price of $2,000, then it’s probably a hoax. Listen actors, this business takes work, A TON OF WORK. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. If you stay in this business, you will have so many scams come your way and you need to be prepared. A good rule of thumb is to trust your gut! If it sounds like a deal of a lifetime and it’s just too easy, then please research or ask someone first.
- This one is my favorite! And believe it or not, it just happened to me; after fifteen years in this business, I still get hit with these things. The difference is, I can spot them, and I know what to look out for. Here’s the scenario…
I got an email from a “producer” a few weeks ago. She gave her name, the name of the project and a bunch of other information about who she had worked for in the past. I did my research, and she wasn’t altogether lying. She had an IMDB page and had some projects listed. At first, it seemed legit. Intrigued, I emailed back and ask some harmless questions. Questions like, who else is attached to your project? When are you planning on shooting? And where will the film go after completion? All legitimate questions that a producer shouldn’t mind answering. Still seems legit, right? She replied, “None of this is important right now, we haven’t booked you.” Hmmmm….. RED FLAG! You mean to tell me, after seeking me out, emailing me and telling me how much you love my work and really want to work with me, you can’t answer a few standard questions? This put me on alert. But I had to find out what the scam was, so I pressed on. I agreed to a second phone call with said producer where she promised she would answer all my questions. In the second call she spoke about the director and what all he had done and how the film already had distribution with 20th Century Fox. She then said there were names attached but she couldn’t divulge them just yet. She then went on to say that they now wanted me to do the major supporting role in the film instead of the day player role. See how she tried pulling me back in once she felt me asking too much? So, I kept on with the conversation because everything inside me is screaming this is TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE and I had to know. And then it happened! The scam reared its ugly head. She added, “Because you are not a name (didn’t she know this from the get-go?) and we are taking a huge chance on you because we believe in you, we have to ask you to bring something to the table. So, after we hang up, go ask your friends or your family to invest in your talent. If you can come to the table with $5,000 or $10,000 or maybe even $20,000, we will know you are really invested in your career, and we would love to work with you.” Wow! Really?? Needless to say, when I didn’t “come to the table” with the money and didn’t call her back, I got THE email. You know this one, right? The email that says because I didn’t follow up and tell them how much I could invest in my career, they don’t take me seriously and don’t feel comfortable offering me such a big part. To which I replied, “Best of luck with your project”. Unfortunately, this happens all the time and some actor somewhere will pony up the dough. And maybe they will get a part in a film made by whomever. Will it change their career? Maybe, maybe not. The bigger question is, do you have $20,000 to throw away on a maybe? Yeah, me either!!!
The main takeaway from this blog is this… DO YOUR RESEARCH! I’ll never understand actors who don’t. We have so many resources literally at our fingertips. It took me all of 30 seconds to Google the above situation and find so many red flags. If you can’t find anything out on the internet, then ask someone! Post something on social media because I can guarantee someone, somewhere has run across the scam you’re asking about.
Be smart! Be ready! Be informed! Be diligent! And above all, trust your gut! If something feels off, it probably is!