John Robert Powers Modeling School
Fraud or Fantastic?


To Whom It May Concern:

I have a son who has been accepted in the life time program with JRP and I am now concerned that it is not a good thing.

I live in Utah and am wondering if all schools that have this problem or just the limited few on the complaint list.

In the Better Business Bureau there aren't any complaints filed, and it seemed legit at the audition, but now I am not too sure.

I haven't paid any of the money yet, and haven't made a final decision, but wanted to make it by the end of the week.

Can you help?

Thanks,

T.M.


T.,

Is this for modeling or acting? In either case, have you shopped around? Have you compared curriculum and prices? What else is there in Utah?

The BBB record may be all well and good, but it doesn't tell you if JRP is the best way or the only way to get where you want to go.

Redacted Info


Thanks for replying so fast.

I have not been able to find any other schools that do this. We live in a very small area with not much possiblity for him to excel in his skills. He wants to be an actor and the JRP school does this and modeling here in Utah.

Where can I look for more agencies or schools?  I am very new to this and very uninformed in the whole area.

Thanks,

T.M.


T.,

Acting is beyond the scope of this website, but if you are new to the world of acting, and want to spend your money wisely, the best place to start learning about the industry is through the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

http://www.sag.org/

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To Whom It May Concern:

I am 17 years old, and I have been very interested in modeling since I was a small child.

One day I received a call from JRP. They told me they were auditioning for teenagers to get in commercials or to model.

I went, but only for the audition. I live in a city where I have heard prices are higher, so I was not about to ask my mother to help to pay for me to get into a school.

They auditioned me and said I was great, yada, yada, yada.

I was SO good they NEEDED me in their school.

The audition was not for modeling or acting and commercials at all.

Next thing I knew my mother had put me in a three-year program that cost over $5,000!

I wanted to do the 10-week program, but when I asked about it, the women said that if I get into the three-year, five-year, or life-time program, I would be on the "elite" list, meaning that I would get to see agencies when they came before the others.

So this meant pay a lot of money to get in the school for three weeks, and do it for nothing, or pay more and do it for nothing also, but believe you have a chance.

Unfortunately I attend this school to this day. I have runway tomorrow at 4 p.m. But we learn the same thing. It is not what I hoped for.

T.W.


To Whom It May Concern:

I had taken some classes at John Casablanca's and have been very pleased with the outcome on how I feel about myself. CONFIDENCE!

I just recently attended that Michael Beaty Expo in Dallas, Texas, and received a call back from New York (Model Service Agency).

The person there said she would prefer it if I were 21 (I am currently 20), so we (MTM) are following up with that later on just to see what may come out of it.

I was always told "we do not promise a job to anyone, you must work your hardest." I had always been very aware of that... no surprise.

Just this past week, my mother heard a commercial on the radio about a guy named Sheehan Douglas, who supposedly helped with casting many TV shows like Simpsons, Malcom in the Middle, and Joe Millionaire, plus American Idol. The audition was along with an audition with John Robert Powers international agency.

So yesterday I went and met with their "National Director." Who had been in some daytime soap?

My mom and I were told to call back today to see if I made callbacks.

We called and they said the national director would call us back.

We did get a call and he said that they have just chosen me (riiiight) for my cast type.

During the second audition he had me re-read the commercial I read before as well as close my eyes and repeat letters!

He was so amazed that I remembered them all. It seemed too weird.

On the phone he told us that he wanted me in the competitive program.

When we got there he said he wanted me as a lifetime member (ummm... not paying $9,900 for anything).

He said he liked me, because, even though I am 20, I am 4'10" and 85 lbs (and before you say anything, yes, I have received jobs!), I can be marketed as a child, which is what they would focus on.

I had a light inside me and a lot of potential.

Everyone hears that.

They brought in someone whom they said was their "Promotional Director," and said he did all the things that you find in the Sunday paper.

It just seemed too good to be true, and of course that's always the case.

They told me how I would meet with agents and his goal was to get me on a sitcom and, eventually, into movies.

He was putting me in a 30-week course called "Commercial, Film then Improv," because "comedy is your area."

He then said that he would go talk it over with the staff.

He came back 10 minutes later, and said, "I have talked it over and it would be a pleasure to work with you."

Now I had not read these letters before, but my mom and I got a bad taste in our mouths, and decided to investigate a little.

Now that I have seen many people have been told the same thing, I know what I need to do.

Yes, I was sucked into the "I'm gonna meet agents!" sales pitch, but thankfully I read this.

I also checked out the BBB site, and they have not had any complaints, but the BBB contacted them, yet they did not respond. (Not good, right?!)

Good luck to everyone who is trying to pursue a career in this industry. It's tough and a lot of work, but as long as you are determined, and on top of it, you will eventually get something out of it, even if it's just self-esteem.

Thanks again,

C.B.


To Whom It May Concern:

I'm 20 years old. I just recently went to an open audition to the John Robert [Powers] School in Bloomington, Minnesota.

They had us listen to two separate speakers: one who was a casting director (or so they say, I'm really not sure), and the other was the director of the school.

It was NOT an agency: they did not have "agency" after their name; it was just "John Robert Powers International."

Now, after meeting with the director, and reading for the camera, they said we had to call between a certain time (the letter of our last name would tell us when to call).

11:30 a.m. came around and I called.

The person on the line said that the director who wanted to talk to me was on the phone and would call me back right away.

Well, at 1:30 p.m. I gave it one more shot.

They transferred me to him and he said that he had to take the casting director who had been there the day before back to the airport; that is why he had not called back.

He told me that they had been holding auditions for a few weeks and narrowed it down to three girls; after we went in again, they would then decide.

The callbacks were that day. Between 2-8 p.m. Now that struck me as odd. But I thought they may have done that to make it easier for people to get back to the callbacks.

Now that I think about it, it may have been to lessen the people in at one time to make you think you got a call back that no one else did.

I went in and they asked what I wanted to get from them.

Then they said that they wanted to know what I was interested in. I said modeling and acting.

He then asked if I would like to be in a movie.

When I said, "Yes," ALL talk of modeling just stopped. He never brought it up again.

He said he wanted me in the five-year program, and told me how much it cost.

I said that was too much money to pay at once.

He then said: "Well, I can do the 30-week program, but if you want to change it to the five-year program, you need to pay the difference in 10 weeks."

I said I would think about it, but would sign up for the 30-week program.

I asked what I would get out of it, and he said: "I'll work on getting you an agent, but you need to be here once a week for classes, as well as a few Saturdays a month to audition for casting directors that would come in."

I was amazed that they were able to get casting directors: it shocked me! I was so excited that while going to school I could also get jobs!

I should have followed my gut when I felt weird like the other girl shared in another letter I just read after he had asked me to repeat letters with my eyes closed; then he said, "Now I would like to test your vision."

He said the same letters and had me repeat them, but this time my eyes were open. I stupidly pushed it aside.

He told me his goals for the three- or five-year program would be to get me in a sticom and a feature film.

A few minutes later, I had signed a contract for the 30-week program.

The guy (a different person this time) asked: "What level?"

I said, "Well, the 30 with a chance to go into the three- or five-year."

He had asked if I got that offer to me when I said, "Yes."

He said: "That's very rare."

I was out the door after that. The whole thing was less than an hour.

I had checked out the site (JRP official site) before going, but I decided to check it again to see if I had missed something...

I don't remember seeing that they have people coming in during the weekends (casting directors, I mean).

I then came across this site. I am so mad!

Like many other people I want to believe what I was told. I know that you should always go with your gut, but the thing is I'm so confused.

I keep thinking: "If I give this up, cancel the contract, am I going to be missing out on some amazing jobs?" or "What if it is like that other article I read where they used phony talent agents?"

I called a very good agency (not a school) to ask questions about what I was told.

I said: "They keep telling me that they will get me to meet casting directors," and asked, "Is that something a school could actually do?"

She said: "I suppose they may be able to, but I don't know what would happen after that."

I feel like I've been taken advantage of, but, at the same time, I don't want to feel that people can be so cruel.

I know that they were probably saying everything that I wanted to hear.

After all this I would really like your advice. Anything you have to say, please. I need to get a certified letter out before Wednesday the 15.

Thank you,

M.S.


M.,

Thanks for writing.

What seems very odd is a company trying to sign you up for a life-time training program after only one audition. You must have put on the performance of your life?

It also seems weird that you would have an audition for something other than a part in a commercial or production. You were auditioning for a school?!

There is a huge conflict of interest at the heart of their sales pitch. They want a huge, fast commitment and upfront fees. It's fast, easy money, isn't it?

More importantly, there is absolutely nothing to check the conflict of interest and keep you from being exploited.

They dangled the casting director stick in front of you. You even admitted this is a reason why you were interested. They also dangled the movie stick.

But as you said they are not a talent agency and they cannot even guarantee you would get an agent.

Were they selling you classes or classes and casting director meetings? Even if they had casting directors visiting, how do you know JRP is not in cahoots with them? Is it unethical to sell aspiring actors meetings with casting directors (see below)?

The position of this website with regards to upfront fees for aspiring actors to meet agents or casting directors is similar to the position of DONOTPAY.org. The introduction to their website read:

Today, there are hundreds of working Hollywood casting directors, associates and assistants, representing some 100 network, cable and syndicated television shows, who are accepting a payment to meet actors in what are commonly referred to as "casting director cold reading workshops."
 
Casting professionals working for nearly every major studio and network in Hollywood - CBS, NBC, ABC, HBO, Fox, Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, MGM  -  are being paid with actor dollars to engage in these "workshops". These professionals even include members of the Board of Directors of the Casting Society of America as well as members of their staffs!
 
Most casting professionals do not engage in these workshops, however those who do are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees each year, derived solely from actors, for providing a "service" which gives these paying actors special favor.  Sold as "classes", these events provide access and exposure - for a fee - to casting offices and the shows they cast.
 
And for the fee actors pay - as much as $95.00 for a two-hour 'workshop'  - they buy the rare privilege of showcasing their talent, which by Hollywood standards is an actor's job interview.  Actors who can't pay, or have decided simply not to support the workshops are placed at a distinctly unfair disadvantage in getting work.
 
Over the past 20 years, casting director workshops have evolved into a multi-million dollar cottage industry.
 
In what Daily Variety called one of Hollywood's best kept "dirty little secrets", workshops, by and large, have virtually cornered the market on access to dozens upon dozens of casting offices - the portals to acting work in Los Angeles.
 
In no other industry would those in a position to consider potential employees for work routinely pocket money paid by those same people.
 
But that's what happens in dozens of casting "workshops" all over Hollywood every night of the week.
 
In November 2002, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued guidelines to over a dozen workshops in a effort to encourage self-regulation and compliance with California state labor laws.
 
Some workshop businesses have refused to sign onto the guidelines, and of those which have signed, nearly every one has continued to violate these guidelines. The state, however, has so far failed to enforce the law, and has essentially turned a blind eye to these violations.
 
And while the Casting Society of America supports the state guidelines, casting directors, including CSA members and their staffs, have not stopped patronizing those workshops which violate the guidelines - and the law.

You should really start with the neutral advice of a talent agency, which has no reason to give you biased advice, and makes no money until you get work.

It would also be worth shopping around to compare prices and programs.

Redacted Info


 


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