Millie Lewis AMTC
(American Modeling and Talent Convention)


To Whom It May Concern:

I'm usually not one to get involved; however, a recent letter regarding a young woman with cerebral palsy performing in the talent finals of AMTC was brought to my attention and I have no choice.

The letter was obviously sent by a person that didn't attend either the preliminary or final performance of this young female contestant.

To say the management of AMTC was upset that she was in the finals is a lie.

I was one of the judges during the preliminaries and although the young woman's song and monologue was almost inaudible, her interpretive dance (yes, from a wheelchair) was inspirational.

She moved her body and arms with grace, timing and dignity. She used what God gave her to the best of her ability and did a better job performing than some of the dancers that could walk.

I believed she was both motivational and inspirational to anyone that actually witnessed the event. She worked hard at her routine and it showed. She scored high in both talent (using what hand God dealt her) and performance (she was well rehearsed and organized), and my fellow judges and I saw no reason to allow her handicap to stand in the way of her being an inspiration and example to others.

The AMTC management never questioned our decision nor did they ask us to leave her out of the finals.

After her performance at AMTC's Finals, the young dancer sat tall and proud receiving an ovation from the capacity audience on hand.

Yes, I remember that young woman, although I can't remember her name for the life of me. I remember her smiling, and many people in the audience crying.

It was her shining moment and regardless of whether or not a talent scout signed her to a contract, she lived her dream, even if it was only for one night.

I don't know whether or not she paid to be there and that isn't my job nor my concern. How can someone put a price tag on a performance experience?

I attend only the AMTC convention. In January I will attend my 20th convention. I attend these functions for two reasons. Firstly, to search for new talent, and, secondly, to network with some of the finest Managers, Agents, Casting Directors and Producers in the business.

People that attend the AMTC convention and feel "ripped off" only have themselves to blame. If you don't have the talent, attitude, confidence or looks to be in the business, why are you kidding yourself or your child?

However, if there is a glimmer of hope there is personality and talent within, why not take a shot? I've seen contestants from AMTC signed and cast in commercials, television series, features and modeling contracts.

You'll never know if you don't try.

Our world is broken down into three kinds of people: those that make things happen; those that watch things happen; and those that wonder what happened.

It's been an acting tradition all over the world to spend thousands of dollars annually on headshots, workshops, and mailings. They spend this money hoping one of their headshots falls in front of the right Agent, Manager, Casting director or producer.

AMTC allows you to cut out the chance and perform in front of us for one week twice a year. Hit or miss at least you had an opportunity to show your stuff.

Sincerely yours,

B.C. in Orlando, Florida


B.,

Thank you for writing to confirm 1) there was a girl with cerebral palsy at an AMTC event, and, 2) "the young woman's song and monologue was almost inaudible."

Like the person who reported the incident, I want to know if AMTC was jerking her around by selecting her for song and monologue, and if AMTC exploited her financially.

You said: "I don't know whether or not she paid to be there and that isn't my job nor my concern." Maybe it should be your concern. Or are you not concerned when young girls with disabilities are exploited?

The person who reported the story said or suggested the girl paid $3,000. Did she pay $3,000? Did she live in the area of the convention? Or did she have to fly in and stay at a hotel, running her bill up to $5,000, as another AMTC competitor said the total cost of the event can meet and exceed $5,000?

An earlier report also said convention competitors pay by the number of competitions they enter. If that is true, did the girl with cerebral palsy pay for the dance competition, pay extra for the monologue competition, and pay extra again for the song competition?

Was she required to pay for competitions despite the fact, to use your words, "the young woman's song and monologue was almost inaudible"?

Were the AMTC staff somehow handicapped to the point of not being able to notice the young woman's song and monologue was almost inaudible, not only when she was scouted, but also when she was selected?

Did this girl with cerebral palsy receive a telephone call and hear the telemarketing script previously submitted to the site?

Isn't there a period of training for all contestants? Was this girl with cerebral palsy trained by AMTC or an affiliated school prior to the convention? If she was trained by them, how did they not know her song and monologue would be almost inaudible at the convention?

A published report in the Savannah Morning News entitled "Young hopefuls learn that runway dreams seldom bring runaway success" quoted Mrs. Carey Arban, the president of AMTC, criticising traveling model searches, saying: "They rape girls of their hopes and their potential."

Since AMTC itself conducts model searches which involve travel, how is it not exploitive to recruit a girl with a disability and require her to pay to perform in specific competitions in which she physically could not, i.e. song and monologue?

I find and I think others will find one of your comments offensive: "People that attend the AMTC convention and feel "ripped off" only have themselves to blame. If you don't have the talent, attitude, confidence or looks to be in the business, why are you kidding yourself or your child?"

You are placing the parents and the aspiring talent on the same level as judges and seasoned casting directors. How can you do that? They do not have the experience or the expertise to know if they have "the talent, attitude, confidence or looks to be in the business." That is why they go to the convention!

If the AMTC staff and their "national scouts" who are supposedly experts and industry professionals have a failure rate as high as or higher than 70%, do they have the talent, attitude, and confidence to be in the business?

Model Search America, which runs a similar convention, reports its failure rate is as high as 80%. AMTC, for some reason, does not, or cannot report its failure rate. Why is that?

Whenever you sign new talent, do you keep it a secret from the hosts of the AMTC? Is it impossible for them to find out which aspiring models and talent were actually signed by agencies?

If you and others keep returning to AMTCs, why is it so difficult for you people to report which models/talent you met at AMTC were signed and worked? Or do you report it to them, but it's just they do not report it to us?

Redacted Info

"Never, ever pay money upfront for anything." — Sarah Doukas, Managing Director, Storm Model Management


To Whom It May Concern:

Just wanted you to know that the Call to Leadership editorial was very good. I only wish there were some way that consumers could hold someone accountable for the unethical way this whole program is put together.

I would be first in line to get my $5,000 reimbursed.

And then to read that script they use on the callbacks! Oh, yes, it is very familiar!

I'm sorry that I fell for it.

I'm sorry I am not a blood-sucker and can take people's money without having any second thoughts. I'm sorry for these people at AMTC and the judges who feel no responsibility, that they are so low in ethics that they do not see what they do to some people by not exactly telling the whole story up front.

That these people can live with themselves should be the 8th wonder of the world, and then to try and put the blame back on the consumer is an insult.

Perhaps there would be enough interest out there to try and get some recuperation of funds spent at this. Do you know of anyone out there filing any sort of suit?

I read the response from the judge called B.C., who so eloquently said people who feel ripped only have themselves to blame.

Obviously this person is a sales person who is so used to screwing people that they don't recognize that it is unethical treatment of human beings! 

And, of course, that judge would say that because if there weren't suckers such as myself, they wouldn't get their "free paid vacation" at the AMTC convention.

Thanks again for all the good work your site does in preventing further people from getting ripped off!

P.O.


P.,

You asked: "Do you know of anyone out there filing any sort of suit?" No, I don't.

I don't know that they are committing any crime. There's a difference between unethical and illegal. You can of course prosecute for breaking the law, but you cannot prosecute for unethical business. Unfortunately the federal government has created no federal law to protect consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission does investigate and sue modeling agencies. Their focus is deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair trade. Deceptive and fraudulent trade is illegal; unfair trade is probably not illegal. The point is there is some potential for the FTC to intervene even if no law is broken.

In the UK they were pressing for new legislation to ban upfront fees. When the same legislation is proposed in America conventions as we now know them will be illegal. Or they will not be able to accept upfront fees.

If ML/AMTC is really as good as they claim or people are led to believe, they will be able to continue without upfront fees.

No upfront fees is the only way to eliminate the conflict of interest.

That is of course how they could be run. The aspiring models only pay once they are signed with an agency. Then it would be virtually impossible for aspiring models to be scammed. How could you be scammed if you paid AFTER you went to a convention and AFTER you are signed by a reputable agency?

There would be no incentive to overselect models for the AMTC. It would waste the time and money of the AMTC. They would only select potential models to go to the convention after they had been screened by the agents by photo before the convention.

Someone should start a petition to be signed by hundreds of former contestants asking AMTC to promote excellence and integrity in their business by:

1) including the prices in their advertising and on their website;
 
2) including the total expected cost (all expenses) for the contestants and family members;
 
3) including the success rate defined by models signed with an agency in their advertising, and on their website, and in their BBB record (like MSA and NYC Fame);
 
4) requiring all prospective models to be screened by agents who will attend the convention using the industry standard photo submissions prior to the convention;
 
5) clearly explaining to all prospective models and their parents in their advertising and on their website the need to relocate to a major market in order to go on go-sees and auditions;
 
6) banning the use of telemarketing scripts for callback phone calls, and replacing them with the results of photo screening (see #4), signed by the agencies;
7) eliminating all expenses for training prior to the event because reputable modeling agencies teach and develop their models for free after they are signed;
 
8) announcing the winners (defined by who was signed by a successful agency) after each convention and the number of contestants (success rate); and,
 
9) quit acting self-righteously by bashing other modeling businesses and acting like the BBB (conflict of interest), talking about "How To Find Truth in the Modeling Industry," when it has not dealt with its own conflicts of interest (see above).

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to relate my experience with the AMTC convention in Orlando.

Unlike the other attendee, there were no hidden costs to this convention.

Perhaps her director dropped the ball, and I think she mentioned that.

We were given a schedule at least two weeks in advance of the schedule that listed Sunday as the call back day.

I knew exactly how much the convention was going to cost, how much I would have to pay to observe, how much the hotel would be, and was given plenty of time to pay it.

It was not something we were stuck with once we got to Florida. And if there was something I was confused about, I called my director.

(I'm curious as to why she did not?)

The convention was held at a wonderful hotel, everything was done orderly and very timely, very topnotch.

My daughter had four callbacks, and more than likely will be spending the rest of her summer in New York modeling.

I can't say what others' experiences were, I only know that my director gave us 24 hours of training, made sure our portfolios and comp cards were ready when we went, got all pertinent information to us before the convention, and let us know every day when to meet for our agency meetings.

She and her other staff were accessible and very supportive of us.

Again, I think her director dropped the ball on her, not AMTC.

In the convention packet I received, it states that only 25% receive representation; so prepare for the fact that you won't get a contract, since that is more likely.

I don't know how anyone can say they are a scam when they tell you right from the beginning what to expect.

I think alluding to the fact that AMTC is a scam is unfair... to me.

And if Carey Arban makes money from the convention, she should. It's her job.

T.M.


T.,

You said: "In the convention packet I received, it states that only 25% receive representation."

Is that a fact? If that is true, perhaps you would like to explain why Carey Arban, president of AMTC, said:

"We have not tracked our placement rate in several years, as it has become impossible to do so."

Both statements cannot be true. One or both of them are false. Is the truth on the Millie Lewis "Truth in the modeling industry" web page?

They say, "The modeling industry is fascinating, compelling, and confusing. You may not know who to trust, how to enter, if you are qualified, and what is a "scam."

Isn't that the truth?

If it is "impossible" to track the AMTC placement rate, and they have not been able to track it for "several years," why did AMTC in print on their convention packet in 2002 say 25% receive representation?

You also said your director "made sure our portfolios and comp cards were ready when we went."

Why did you have portfolios and comp cards made BEFORE getting signed by an agency? Why do experts say you do not need professional photos, comp cards, or expensive portfolios before you are signed or so you can get signed? Who is making money off the portfolios and comp cards?

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

My two children and I attended the American Modeling & Talent Convention held in Charleston, SC, this past January.

I do agree it was a life-time experience for my children. It was very organized, professionally directed, and included many creditable speakers.

Ironically, the only opposing component during the entire week was Carey Arban, the owner.

Let me explain...

When we were all signing up for an audition time slot Wednesday night, chaos surrounded the podium.

Once I had the "sign-ups" folder, very few available slots were left.

I asked about the monologue auditions, but was told that the "regular schedule had been behind schedule due to the number of people signing up for auditions, so just find an open slot and they'll audition with them."

I did not notice the small tab separating the "monologue" time slots from the "dance" time slots, nor when I asked the AMTC staff member concerning this matter, was it ever explained.

With total pandemonium and it being my first time to this convention, I was confused. However, I did indicate "monologue" beside my son's name on the sign-up sheet.

The next day, when I had discovered my son could not audition, I tried to ascertain a solution for the problem.

After speaking with both of Carey's daughters, who were very polite and empathetic, they referred me to their mother, Carey.

When I approached her, she automatically met me with a rejecting, hateful, "better-than-thou" attitude.

She sarcastically explained this was not "her" fault and "this is not a Cinderella or beauty pageant contest."

She made it very clear that she did not care at all if my son had missed his audition, nor that we all had spent so much time and money to come to this event.

Moreover, the only time she seemed the least bit concerned is when I asked for my money back for the "added" category, since he did not get the chance to compete.

Right or wrong, she had no right speaking to me in that manner.

I later found out that another individual who had signed up for a monologue audition, like my son, was unable to audition for the same reason.

A few days later, I was told another parent was very upset for the way Carey had spoken to her daughter.

A third comment was made on how Carey rudely commented on another contestant's attire, and how she didn't approve of it. (I didn't know she was one of the judges.)

One would think she would've been more professional, at the very least. Surely, she could have set a more positive example.

I was disappointed and unaware of Mrs. Carey Arban's reprehensible character. Continual discourteous behavior will create such a reputation.

Sincerely,

V.L.


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