IS YOUR MODELLING AGENCY THE REAL THING – OR IS IT A SCAM?

Maria Henry explores the ways in which aspiring models can protect themselves from scammers and find real opportunities within the modelling industry.

We’ve all heard the stories of top models being stopped by agency scouts, looking to take them from normal people to the next big names in fashion. From supermodel Kate Moss, who was scouted by the founder of Storm Model Management whilst she was at the airport, to Forbes highest-paid model of all time Gisele Bündchen, who was scouted at the mall – opportunities to be discovered are all around us.
Now that we are living in the age of social media, the opportunity to be discovered is growing every day. As the industry is being pushed in a more online-driven direction, agents look for potential models via their social media presences. Instagram scouting has become a primary form of model scouting, and scouting has even been said to take place on social media platform TikTok, sparking an array of video submissions for aspiring models.
You may think this would lead to an over-saturated market, with an abundance of models and few job opportunities, when in fact social media has done the opposite and created a bigger need for models. As brands now have social media presences, they require more and more models to showcase their products to a wider audience and often persue sponsorship deals with models that fit their aesthetics and target audiences. There are a lot of opportunities out there for aspiring models – it is just a matter of finding the ones that are right for you and ensuring that they are safe and legal.
The new heightened demand for models has created an influx of false agencies trying to scam new hopeful models out of money and time. This article will aim to provide you with some tips and tricks for spotting false agencies and finding real opportunities within the modelling industry.

MODELLING JOB OR SALES PITCH?

One of the most common forms of modelling scams are the agencies that charge the models, rather than paying them. These fake agencies approach people with the promise of turning them into models but rather than providing them with the tools to start their career, they attempt to sell them modelling classes, photos with their photographers, or screen tests, all at the expense of the model. These agencies often have no real connection to the industry and rather than providing their clients with jobs, they simply take their money and yield few results.
Never accept a job that tells you that you need to pay them. Modelling agencies look at their models like investments – they make money when you get hired.
It is also very rare that an agency will ask you to pay their photographer for photographs. Polaroids and headshots will often be required by agents; however, these will usually be taken by a photographer of your choice prior to you signing, and once signed, they will be provided by the agency.


“A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY”

If an agency wants you to work for them, they will likely wait for you to decide if signing with them is the right move for your career. The FDC warns against opportunities that approach aspiring models telling them that they must “act fast” or that the offer will disappear if they do not pay a fee. If an agency is interested in you, they will provide you with a legal contract mapping out the details of signing with them. Beware of any agency which asks for a deposit, fee, or wants you to ‘invest’ with them.

CASH ONLY

Any agency that tells you that you must pay them in cash is almost definitely a scam. Using cash means that the money is not traceable once it leaves your hands, making it much easier for scammers to run away with your money. Legitimate agencies will set up a legal contract with their signed models, which means that money can be transferred from them directly to the model.

“UP AND COMING AGENCY”

Though new, independent agencies appear to be popping up all over social media, you should still be wary of their legitimacy before giving them any personal information. Ask to see a business licence or check with a consumer protection agency if you are struggling to find information on them. Keep any papers or contracts that they may send to you for your legal protection. If the agency has advertised any of its successes with their models, you can also contact the models they are advertising for references – if they have worked with the company they may be able to advise you as to how truthful they are.


REPUTATION AND REVIEWS

A simple, yet effective way to find out if your agency is a scam or not is to look into its reputation. Real modelling agencies will have a website and social media platforms set up to showcase their talent and find new clients. You will also be able to look at reviews on platforms such as Google, Yelp, Glassdoor, and Facebook to see if people have had positive experiences with the company. Beware of agencies with only a couple of reviews, as it is easy to create fake reviews on platforms such as Google – if the company is real, it will have a larger online presence.


DON’T BE DISCOURAGED

Just because the agency that has reached out to you isn’t legitimate, doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of being a model. Scammers will seek out aspiring models and try to prey on their ambitions – it doesn’t mean that you are not good enough for a real agency, it just means this one isn’t the right one for you.


PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE

Being scouted isn’t the only way to get signed to a modelling agency. A lot of big agencies accept submissions from aspiring models. Model submissions have been a long-standing and successful way that many well-known models have found themselves getting into the industry. For example, supermodel Doutzen Kroes submitted photos of herself to an agency when she was only 18 and was signed immediately, launching her career into the success it is today.
World-famous modelling agencies such as IMG accept submissions from people with no prior experience. All that is required is some photos (they don’t even have to be professionally taken) and no fee is required to submit your application.
So, instead of waiting for them to come to you, put yourself out there and go to them! If you have a genuine love for modelling, seek out the opportunities that you think are right for you. Grow your social media presence and improve your skills on your own time. Create and find your own opportunities to grow.


If you enjoyed this article you can read more of Maria’s work @mariawriteshere on twitter

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