John Robert Powers Modeling School
Comments / Concerns


To Whom It May Concern:

I'm 15 and I have always been interested in acting and modeling. I recently signed up with John Robert Powers in CT for lessons. It all seemed very legit, but now I have been looking more into it, and I have read about many scams with modeling agencies. I was wondering if anyone has heard about any scams with the CT franchise.

Thank you,

A.D.


A.,

What is the cost of the lessons at John Robert Powers in CT? Are they the most expensive classes in CT?

If you decide to take classes with JRP, don't let that stop you from contacting and visiting reputable modeling agencies in the region which do not require upfront fees or classes. Explore your options and shop around.

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To Whom It May Concern:

First, I want to thank you for some excellent advice, and saving my family some valuable time when it came to our "call back" appointment with John Robert Powers.

I think what irks me the most about their sales pitch is that they do it in front of your children, almost using them for leverage in convincing you to sign them up for what is a very costly "schooling" program.

I noticed in one of your email responses that you listed several reputable modeling agencies for one particular reader.

Both of my daughters are very interested in modeling/acting on some level. We live in the San Fernando Valley (California), which is part of Los Angeles County.

Could you please give me the names of a few agencies that I can call to offset my children's disappointment that I decided not to follow through with the John Robert Powers "offer"?

Thanks again,

B.K. in Granada Hills, California


Beverly Hills/Los Angeles Modeling Agencies

Click Models
9057 Nemo Street, Suite B
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Elite Models
345 N. Maple Drive, #397
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Ford Models
8826 Burton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Next Models
8447 Wilshire Boulevard, #301
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Q Models
6100 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 710
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Wilhelmina Models
8383 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 650
Beverly Hills, CA 90211


To Whom It May Concern:

I attended a John Robert Powers (Ontario, California) convention at a high-class hotel in Hollywood.

They talked of looking for talent and models. Each person did a two-second or so videotape and was told to call a number the next day at a given time.

Low and behold, my daughter was picked to do a video in two days with MTV. All I needed to do was give them fifty percent of the fee, and in thirty days pay the rest.

I agreed to do this because they guaranteed she would be in the video, and the other payment would come from her wages for working in the video.

But we have not heard anything else since then. I have been so worried that this is a scam. Is there any information about this company that you can share?

I did suggest to my daughter to call the BBB. She believes them and she said I made her feel bad for saying such a thing.

G.C.


G.,

You said: "My daughter was picked to do a video in two days with MTV."

If it has been longer than two days, by all means call John Robert Powers. Find out what is going on. If you paid and there has been a delay, they should have already called you.

If you are unable to get through to JRP, or even if you are, you could call MTV. Confirm they are working with JRP, and confirm the date you were given for the MTV video.

It is suspicious that JRP would guarantee work for anyone, even if they are under contract with MTV. Usually the client chooses the talent, not the agency, although there are exceptions, e.g. very minor parts.

You could also inquire about JRP at the BBB. I can't find an online listing for JRP in Ontario, California in the BBB database. If it could upset her, your daughter doesn't need to know you are making the call.

Since you are the one who paid, not your daughter, you should investigate. Your concerns are not unfounded. They should not be getting any upfront fees. It is totally back to front. A talent agency is paid after the talent is paid, not before.

How much did you pay? How long ago did you pay?

Please note the following information from the Los Angeles BBB:

As of January 1, 2000, new California laws relating to "advance fee talent services" allow 10 days to cancel contracts without penalty or obligation. In some cases, refunds must be provided within 48 hours, or the company is required to pay the artist an additional sum equal to the original amount of the fee. Cancellation procedures should be outlined in your contract.

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To Whom It May Concern:

I've gone through the same disappointments as those who already wrote about John Robert Powers with my children and trying to assist them in the fulfillment of their modeling dreams.

It sounds like there are a lot of agencies which are asking for money upfront. Any suggestions as to how to get them started with a good modeling agency?

K.T.


K.,

You could either keep looking until you find an agency which does not charge upfront fees, or you could shop around until you find the one with the lowest rate.

The best way to get started with a modeling agency is to visit the agency by appointment or at an open call. This gives the agency the most accurate representation of the aspiring model, a chance to speak with and see the personality of the potential model, ask any questions they want, and it also gives the prospective model and possibly the parents a chance to discern the character of the people at the agency through interaction and asking the right questions.

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To Whom It May Concern:

Last February I took my nine-year-old daughter to an "open call" at John Robert Powers in Denver, Colorado.

She was interested in being a catalog model. We received a booklet full of the names of famous people who got their start at JRP.

Here is a direct quote from the booklet: "Individuals who have potential but need direction will be recommended to our coaching program to develop the skills needed..."

The room was full of people in anticipation of being the next discovery; my daughter was one of them. JRP took her picture, had her read a few lines, videotaped her, and told me how wonderful she was.

The very next day, the agency contacted me for a call back. They wanted us that night for another reading. JRP wanted my daughter to read for a movie being produced by Tom Cruise, and I was told how perfect she was for it.

We arrived and they tested my daughter again —she was so excited. Then as we both sat there, I was told about the classes. Because my daughter wasn't "agency ready," I had to pay to get her ready.

I was told how much money my daughter was worth, and how rich she would be. I knew I couldn't exactly afford it, but I did have a $2,000 income tax return coming. They looked at me, and then at my daughter, and told me I had to choose, make an "investment."

I requested more time; then I was told that the classes only had two more spots, and if I didn't make a decision now, my daughter would be left out. (I had no idea the open calls and classes were on going, and never ending.)

I looked at my daughter so excited to have been discovered. I wrote that check.

My daughter finished her 40 hours of classes that totaled $1,950. Then we went to the agency meeting. Finally I thought this is it.

But it wasn't. I had to pay more money for photos now. JRP would not represent her until I had photos and I had to pay for them.

I was lucky enough to have a friend who was a photographer. JRP wasn't happy: every photo was criticized. But we finally agreed on one head shot.

We have attended many open calls. We have been videotaped and the tapes are sent off to the casting agent, or are they?

I spent a lot of money and a lot of time, but as of today, there is nothing to show for it.

I emailed JRP Denver and asked them tell me what they have been doing for my daughter. They haven't even responded to me.

What can I do now? I want my money back.

Sincerely,

Y.L.


Unfortunately, there is not much you can do. Most of the open calls on weekends for casting are probably bogus. JRP pays the casting people to come and say they are looking, when in fact, most of the casting for these movies is already done.

Ask for a list of agents/managers JRP submitted to, then contact them to ask how they felt her audition went; some will give you good feedback and keep your files for years!

Also, JRP is NOT an agency, it's a school! Ask the counselors at the school to show you her progress reports and if not happy with her classes, and if she's not ready yet, ask to repeat free of charge.

All JRP's guarantee the training... AT least she will get her money's worth on the coaching... provided, of course the coaches are professionals. Everything depends on the managers of that facility. I would ask for the owner personally.

Let them know their service is less than satisfactory and threaten to go public... that may scare them off... It's worth a try! One owner settles with anyone who brings a suit to avoid publicity.

The price is standard JRP pricing for a 20-week course. After classes are taken, there is no recourse for refunds. It specifically says JRP does NOT guarantee placement. They try to help, but if not placed, it's not their fault.

I would contact the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) for a list of reputable agencies in your area. Submit your picture and resume yourself. SAG can further instruct you to bring a suit if you choose.

If there is any casting going on in Denver, SAG will know it. Ask for reputations of the agents you met on calls, too. If not a legit casting company or agency, then JRP is not doing a good service for them.

Sorry I don't have more news, but good luck!

P.D.


Thank you for your response.

I would like to state two more things:

1) I was not told that JRP was a school, but that they are an agency, and my daughter needed some training before they would represent her.

2) I paid the $1,950+ for 40 hours of training and then was asked for another $400 for photos before they would sign the agency contract.

Y.L.


Y.,

Regarding the licensing of JRP in Denver, whether it is an agency or a school, you may want to inquire at the office of the Attorney General or the District Attorney.

The legal reference section of The Glam Scam said:

Colorado does not have specific laws which regulate employment agencies (which includes talent/modeling agencies). Certain regulations pertaining to employment agencies are imposed and enforced by the District Attorney (Consumer Affairs Section) from county to county.

It's illegal in states like Florida and Texas for talent agencies to require training as a condition for representation.

In Texas, for example, agencies cannot charge talent for advance registration fees, video or audio tapes, postcard service, advertising, resumes, photographs, classes, or require subscriptions to a publication.

The reason why it is illegal is to prevent businesses from convincing consumers to sign up and pay for classes, etc., to get jobs, but then fail to get them work.

In states which have no talent or modeling agency regulations and no employment agency rules, consumers may be more likely to get scammed, not only because there is no law to protect them clearly defining what it legal and what is illegal, but also because there is likely relatively little work available. (The toughest laws seem to be in the states where there is the most available work, e.g. CA, NY, TX, IL, FL.) Denver is certainly not a modeling/acting capital.

There may not be a BBB listing for John Robert Powers in Denver, but there are many other JRP records, including one in California which said John Robert Powers is a "franchise type organization," and it is operating under "several different owners and locations," which seems to shed some light on JRP in general:

The company refers to itself as a "tuition-based performing arts center." This means the company offers classes for which an upfront fee is charged. These classes are not accredited by any recognized or regulatory agency.
 
The company is not licensed as a talent agency and consequently it cannot offer, promise, procure or attempt to provide nor guarantee employment in the entertainment, modeling or talent industry.
 
The company's ads state they are "searching" for various categories of models for auditions.
 
Other ads claim their clients are featured in ads for Target, Macy's, Nordstroms and others.
 
Do not interpret such advertising to mean this company can obtain work for you or that they have access to modeling jobs, including department stores. They do not. The company makes its money selling classes to its customers.
 
Educational/General Comments on "the Talent Agency Industry" follows:
 
Educational/General Comments
 
Talent Agencies
 
THE BBB PROVIDES INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL ADVICE ON MANY SUBJECTS. THE REMAINDER OF THIS REPORT PROVIDES ONLY GENERAL INFORMATION ON TALENT, MODELING AND ENTERTAINMENT AGENCIES, SCHOOLS AND TRAINING CENTERS.
 
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT WHAT FOLLOWS IS A GENERAL REPORT, SOME OR ALL OF WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT APPLY TO ANY PARTICULAR COMPANY.
 
Virtually all successful models and actors work through managers, and generally use a talent agency that does not charge a fee payable in advance for screen tests, photographs, acting or modeling lessons or other services.
 
If you are signed as a client by a licensed talent agency, you will pay such agency nothing until you work and then a percentage of your earnings as a performer —BUT NOTHING IN ADVANCE.
 
Current California Labor law mandates that ONLY a licensed Talent Agent can book work for clients and charge a fee for that service. So, be cautious of companies that place "Help Wanted" ads for models or actors, which usually state "No Experience Necessary", and then ask for advance fees of any kind.
 
Some companies make their money on photography fees alone. Look out for those who pressure you into having a portfolio done through their designated photographer. In these situations, you may be required to leave a deposit for the photos which will often cost hundreds of dollars.
 
Other companies make their money using high pressure tactics and often misleading promises to induce you into signing up for expensive classes. Most of these companies target children 16 or younger. Be cautious when a company tells you your child has great potential but must have costly training before he or she can be referred to a talent agency to obtain work.
 
Make sure any verbal promises to you are in writing and are included in any agreement you sign. Always remember, if a company is not licensed as a talent agency, it may not procure, offer or attempt to provide employment or engagements for an artist, model or entertainer per labor code section 1700.4.

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