Millie Lewis AMTC
(American Modeling and Talent Convention)


To Whom It May Concern:

What can you tell me about the Millie Lewis organization?

My son was encouraged to sign up for one of the conventions coming up in the fall.

It's about $495 for him to go. If I thought it would help him, I'd gladly find the money, but I'm a little apprehensive.

The organization is listed with the BBB, and the Attorney General in WV has no complaints.

Please advise.

P.B.


P.,

Millie Lewis has a squeaky clean public record at the BBB. They have actually gone to the trouble of paying the fees to buy BBB membership at each of their franchises.

However, if you look further down on the BBB web page for the main Millie Lewis listing, i.e., Millie Lewis International, there are important if not ironic statements by which the BBB may be trying to warn consumers:

To help you detect fraudulent opportunities, the BBB warns that disreputable agencies often: - ask for up-front money. Legitimate agents work on a commission. They don't get any money until you get paid for doing the work they have obtained for you.

Millie Lewis apparently asks for up-front money and does not receive payments by commission.

They scout for talent to attend their convention, but they are not paid the way scouts are paid at reputable agencies.

Model scouts are usually paid by commission, i.e., a percentage of the model's future earnings; model agencies are paid in a similar way, a percentage of the model's earnings.

This is a fair system, and a just system, and it protects models.

The Millie Lewis system inherently causes a conflict of interest which encourages Millie Lewis scouts to be overselective, because they are paid by the number of people who they sign up, not the number of people an agency signs up.

This fact is illustrated by the failure rate of the Millie Lewis conventions. The last available data is from 1994, when, the president of Millie Lewis said, "over 30% of our contestants received an offer of representation." Translation: about a 70% failure rate.

If you are comfortable gambling on those types of odds, you may want to send your son to the Millie Lewis con vention.

Rhonda Hudson, the President of the Models Guild, has attended two Millie Lewis conventions, according to the President of Millie Lewis, Carey Arban.

According to Rhonda Hudson, modeling conventions may be fun and provide an opportunity to meet people and make friends, but they are probably not the most wise use of finances.

Modeling convention prices vary. We are still trying to pin down the convention price from the president of Millie Lewis, because two Millie Lewis websites do not reveal the cost.

You said the cost for your son is $495. Another parent wrote and said she paid $2,000 for her daughter, but others at the convention had paid different prices. If this is true, it raises some interesting questions.

In any case, and in any event, there are cheaper ways of being discovered, or at least gauging interest, including sending snapshots directly to reputable agencies, or attending open calls at reputable agencies.

Ford Models, for example, encourages prospective models to send in their pictures. Their website provides the mailing address. They do not advise aspiring models to attend modeling conventions.

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To Whom It May Concern:

My daughter attended the Millie Lewis AMTC (American Modeling and Talent Convention).

She had several call backs. We were so excited.

One agency even told us that they wanted her right away.

We get back home and call our agency to set up an appointment.

We go and she pretty much tells us, "Congratulations, and good luck in the future."

I was under the impression that our agency would be helping us with everything.

This agent that wanted my daughter right away has now put us off until next summer.

Now I don't know what to think.

Do I search for another agency, or am I stuck with this one that we went to the convention with?

I'm beginning to think that this was a scam!

Please help.

J.A.


J.,

A couple of times you referred to the modeling agency which saw your daughter at the Millie Lewis modeling convention as "our agency."

Did you sign a contract with the agency? They usually specify a time period. It should be one year at the beginning. It can range from one to three years.

The contract would also say if it is an exclusive contract. If it is not exclusive, you can seek other agencies to represent you.

Of course if no contract was signed you can and probably should look elsewhere. If you cannot trust their word, why trust them with your daughter's future?

Why you were told your daughter was needed immediately and then immediately becomes immediately in a year is a mystery.

Press the agency for an explanation. Press Millie Lewis for an explanation.

People wonder if call backs are sincere. No wonder.

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Thanks for the response.

When I said "our agency," I was referring to the agency with which we went to the convention: the "mother agency" as some people call it.

The agency which wanted my daughter right away is in New York. I don't know why they changed their mind.

I thought that our "mother agency" would take care of all the plans and keep trying to contact the others that were interested to get my daughter work.

Since she is not doing this, does this mean I can go to another agency?

I have contacted a few other agencies just to see, and they tell me that I probably have signed a contract with the "mother agency."

Two of three agencies told me that because my daughter went to the convention with the "mother agency" they could not represent my daughter.

They also attend the AMTC.

The other does not do conventions but was quick to tell me that I am in contract with the "mother agency."

I don't remember signing anything, and don't find it in my paper work. I'm really confused.

The convention cost too much money to let it end here.

If my daughter had not got call backs I could see reason for the way we are being treated. But my daughter caught the eyes of many, including agents who don't take children.

So why all of the sudden are we on our own?

Thanks,

J.


J.,

You're right in saying: "The convention cost too much money to let it end here."

You really need to find out if you are under any obligations at all. Some agencies think you are, or they think you could be; but I don't think you are.

How could you possibly be under any obligations if you never signed a contract with an agency?

What is the name of your "mother agency"? Can you call them, perhaps say you would like to take a look at the contract you signed? Pretend you did sign one.

If they say, "You never signed a contract," then you have confirmation you are free. If they say, "OK, we'll mail it," then you'll see if/what you signed.

One way or the other you need to find out from the so-called "mother agency" if there is a contract. You can't make any progress unless and until you know 100% if there is a contract?

(If you never signed a contract, it's probably a bit generous to call them a mother agency.)

If you confirm there is no contract, and the "mother agency" was actually just a chaperone, you can tell any and all modeling agencies you have confirmed there was no contract, there is no contract, and take it from there.

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To Whom It May Concern:

I realized that the AMTC was a scam when a young girl with cerebral palsy was there and entered the monologue, singing and dancing competitions. She was in a wheelchair and had difficulty forming words.

When she made it to the dance finals, the AMTC grew very upset. Excuse me, but if you don't think someone should be in the finals, why take their $3,000 and give them false hope? WHY did they allow her to pay the fee for monologue????

J.C.


J.,

I don't know if I believe the story. It is not like Millie Lewis/AMTC organizers could possibly imagine something like this would fail to get the attention of hundreds of people attending the convention, all the contestants, all their parents, the media covering the event, everyone from the other AMTC staff to all the agents and agencies. And they would know nobody would forget something like this.

You can't have a girl in a wheel-chair and not be noticed in a dance competition. Or giving a monologue if she has cerebral palsy or a speech impediment. Everyone is going to see and hear this. It is a totally public event. There are hundreds of people milling around. It draws interest. Not criticism, but interest. Everyone wants to know what is going on...

This is a media story. The media is interested in those who have disabilities but special abilities and rise above their challenges.

While I have reservations about the story, I'd urge others who witnessed the event to write in and say what happened to corroborate the story or suggest ATMC explains what happened, and give their side of the story.

Who was the AMTC scout who recruited her? Who is responsible for this? Are there any pictures of the girl at the event? Does AMTC record the conventions on video? Is there an archive? Does anyone know the name of the girl so her parents could be contacted to confirm the story?

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I asked my daughter if she saw a girl in a wheel-chair but she doesn't recall anyone in her categories.

I do remember seeing someone in a wheel-chair, but it appeared that was because she had a broken leg.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they did this, though, as I think they are just out to make a buck from whomever will put it up.

M.S.


M.,

Your last comment is similar to one of the first comments (letter#2), which was they have not missed a trick at how to make a buck.

They are involved in running schools, such as the Millie Lewis Modeling and Finishing School, but the president of one agency said schools are a scam, because they train their models for free, and the BBB said most agencies train their models for free.

They are involved in getting professional modeling photos before models are signed, but experts say professional photos are not needed until you are signed with an agency.

They are also of course involved in running conventions like the AMTC, but they do not use the industry standard potential model photo screening.

The common thread in everything they do is upfront fees. Upfront fees are illegal in some states.

Sarah Doukas, President of Storm Agency in London, England, discovered supermodel Kate Moss. Storm is the top London model agency. The agency represents over 400 models besides Kate Moss, including Eva Herzigova, Sophie Dahl and Elle Macpherson.

Ms Doukas is one of the most successful women in the modeling industry. She knows it inside out, all the good, and all the bad. Her experience and expertise is summarized in her advice for aspiring models: "Never, ever pay money upfront for anything."

Is there even one ML program that does not have upfront fees?

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Related: Modeling Agency President Speaks Out Against Expensive Conventions, Calls Modeling Schools A Complete Scam


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