Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

International Creative Artists (ICA) (Helene Goldnadel)

TIP: Sit in on an International Creative Artists class before commitment or payment to determine if it is exactly what you want and the quality meets your standards. (Try Before You Buy.)

This web page contains a brief excerpt from the International Creative Artists website, a quote from an industry expert, a quote from a top industry leader, a parent's complaint, an excerpt from the BBB record for ICA, and expert advice.


One parent wrote a complaint in which she said her daughter attended an ICA open call and was asked for money very quickly. After quickly giving ICA $400, she was then asked to give them $6,000.

The complainant also said her daughter was interested in modeling, not acting, and was under the impression she signed up for modeling classes, but she ended up in an acting class, and, because she was not interested in acting, left the class.

Helene Goldnadel, the president of International Creative Artists (ICA), was contacted about the complaint and she said the focus of ICA is acting, not modeling: "We are more acting than modeling oriented."

Consumers are therefore advised to make sure they understand ICA is for actors, not models. They may want to sit in as guests at one class before they commit to tens, hundreds, or thousands of dollars, to make sure it is exactly what they want, as they could at a college class, because once payment is made, apparently there are no refunds after a deadline.

The parent said ICA offered a refund within 10 days, but the first class started after the 10-day right to recission expired.

Ms. Goldnadel denied this, saying: "Classes do not start eleven days after people sign up. They start upon schedule availability."

Ms. Goldnadel was asked why she does not put the prices of her classes in advertising. She answered: "It would be impossible to discuss our prices in ads, or flyers, because we have different programs, and ad space is expensive."

There is no additional cost, however, to include the prices for classes on the ICA website, which is used for advertising. At the time of writing the prices for classes are not on their website.

The fair rate for acting classes according to a casting director in Los Angeles is $25-40/week. The Los Angeles Times published fair market rates:

Acting Classes Fair Pricing:,0,4701595,print.story?coll=la-jobs-counselor-2001

Acting Classes
On-going acting training can be obtained in theatre arts programs at local community colleges, universities, and private drama workshops. Here are some examples of programs:

UCLA Extension offers classes for acting in theatre, film, television, and voiceovers at a cost of $495 to $695 each.

California State University, Los Angeles and California State University Northridge have programs in theater arts. The cost is approximately $350 a semester.
Cal State Northridge
College of Extended Learning
(818) 677-2786
They offer three classes for actors: Inside the Daytime Drama Audition Process: Getting the Job, a one-time class ($69), Voiceovers for Radio and Television, six classes ($199), and Animation Voiceovers, six classes ($169).

College of the Canyons offers a three-unit Acting Fundamentals class at $11 per unit.

Los Angeles City Community College, L.A. Valley Community College have programs in theatre arts. The cost is $11.00 a unit to a maximum of $50.00 a semester.
The following are some local private drama schools:

Groundling Theatre
7307 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90046
(323) 934-4747

An audition is required in order to reserve a place in a class and requires a $50.00 Non-Refundable deposit that is applied to the cost of the class. Payments for the classes are due ten days prior to the first day of class and must be made through the Groundling Theatre office.

There are four different levels, beginning with a basic level, and finishing with advanced classes. Tuition: introductory class (no audition required) 6-weeks: $200, basic level 1: $395 for 12-weeks, level 2 intermediate: $395 for 12-weeks, level 3 writing lab: $475 for 12-weeks, and level 4 advanced: $600 including all classes, 2 dress rehearsals, and 2 produced shows.

The Piero Dusa Acting Conservatory
Santa Monica, CA
(310) 656-8070

The Meisner/Carville School
North Hollywood, CA
(818) 769-5581

Beverly Hills Playhouse
254 S. Robertson
Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 855-1556

The cost of classes ranges from $200 up to $320 per month for twice-weekly, ongoing classes.

Actors In Action (AIA)
1918 Magnolia Blvd. #204
Burbank, CA 91506
(818) 563-4142
Alice Swan
The AIA (Actors in Action) is a networking/workshop company that offers workshops led by top, working casting directors, agents, and filmmakers, as well as support and networking opportunities. The cost of the four- to seven-week workshops, one class per week, range from $37-$40 per class, or $148 to $280 per workshop.


Ms. Goldnadel maintains ICA screens potential models for their modeling program. They do not accept everyone. The exact standards of the ICA model screening process, however, remain unclear.

"Our fashion course teaches the few people who do qualify, how to walk on the runway and handle themselves in front of a still camera. It also allows kids to become less shy. They learn about hair, makeup, nails, etc. A lot of parents are told their teenager does not qualify for fashion, but they have the kids take the course as part of a whole program."

The fair rate for modeling classes is nothing.


The person most qualified to speak on modeling schools or modeling classes is the president of a top modeling agency. Such a person knows exactly what is needed, if anything, to prepare a girl to be a model.

Monique Pillard, as President of Elite Model Management, based in New York City, and one of the top modeling agencies in the world, said:

If [a girl] comes off the street into Elite and we think she has potential, she doesn't need to pay for classes. Somewhere down the line, she may take runway classes, which she doesn't pay for. We absolutely bear the burden. If a girl has talent and potential to become a model, of course, we help. It's a scam of [the model] paying $1,000 or $2,000. That's [expletive]!

-- THE IMPROBABLE DREAM, Robin Givhan, Washington Post, December 2, 1996; Page C1

Helene Goldnadel stressed: "I do let people know during a presentation that modeling classes are not really needed to become a model."


It is not clear to everyone how "international" International Creative Artists is. One critic of ICA alleged the company name implies offices in different countries, but ICA apparently has only one office. Some modeling and talent companies use the word "international" in their company name to make them look bigger and more successful than they actually are.

The late Dott Burns, who was a veteran industry agent, once warned: "As in any business, there are greedy people and con artists who just want your money. Don’t ever pay “up front” for an agent or a job. Never! And be cautious about people using the word “international.”(Breaking Into Showbiz: Dott's Do's and Don'ts, Pageantry magazine, Winter 1998).

ICA is upfront by stating on their website home page they work directly with agents in New York, France, London, and Milan, although they don't provide the names of the agents. They don't say they have offices in France, England, and Italy.


We rate this company as having an unsatisfactory business performance record.
One complainant contends that after paying $600.00 for a photo shoot, the company failed to deliver the photos.
Another complainant paid a $300 deposit for photos; however, no photographs were ever taken, no refund was issued, and the customer experienced difficulty contacting the owner about these issues.
A third complainant alleges that the ad in the newspaper led him to believe the company was an agency. However, when the customer arrived for the appointment, he discovered that the company was offering a seminar for classes which require a starting fee of $1,000.


The BBB file for ICA, as noted above, said ICA is involved in professional photography.

Ms. Goldnadel countered: "We do not offer the service of zed cards and I explain to people that most do not need a zed card."

Nina Blanchard of the Nina Blanchard Agency has previously advised: "Do not get a portfolio before getting an agent."

Other agents at leading agencies have said the same thing. They want snapshots before they decide to represent anyone.


One of Helene Goldnadel's former students, Magdalena Zielinska, wrote to the site after seeing earlier comments by a parent: "This is a complaint against the person whose daughter dropped out of my school and is slandering it!"

Shortly thereafter, Helene Goldnadel herself sent an email in which she alleged the same thing.

Zielinska is heralded by Goldnadel as her five-star success story, having landed some work in popular TV programs. She praised ICA to the nth degree to the point where it appeared there might be more than simply a president-student relationship.

"I authorized ICA to advertise themself through me," says Magdalena Zielinska.

One insider maintains Zielinska is not simply a student; Zielinska and Goldnadel are like business partners.

Ms. Zielinska was asked: "Do you work for ICA? Have you previously worked for ICA? Have you ever been paid by ICA, directly or indirectly?"

Zielinska responded: "I am an ICA student. I have taken classes which I paid for."

A closer look at the ICA website, however, reveals Magdalena Zielinska co-wrote a book with Helene Goldnadel: What You Always Wanted To Know About Acting & Modeling... But Never Got the Right Answers by Helene Goldnadel & Magdalena Zielinska.

REBUTTAL BY Helene Goldnadel, Owner, International Creative Artists

Where you say: "Posting prices on a site is free"

My answer is:

"We give a lot of scholarships, and our partial scholarships reduce the cost
of our courses considerably. In addition, our students are able at no additional charge to come in and run lines on a one on one basis with myself and/or one of our coaches, before going to the first audition (casting), and the final auditions, (going to producers).

This service would cost them elsewhere $25, to $50, up to $100 a visit. This private coaching is available to our clients at no additional charge, whether they signed up for one inexpensive course or for all the courses. So the posting of our price list would be inaccurate."

Where you say: "The fair price for acting classes is $25 a class"

My Answer is:

"You definitely get what you pay for. If you pay very little for a course, you may not get additional support beyond general acting studies. Individual coaching per audition may not be included in that price. This site should write about Juilliard, or NYU, because they charge $200,000 for four years and more, and not every one with such credentials on their resume gets work. ICA students on our VIP programs, taking unlimited amount of classes pay less than $25 a class."

Where you say: "The fair price for modeling classes is nothing"

My answer is:

"Our fashion course goes beyond fashion in terms of self-affirmation, developing the ability to use ones sensitivity towards zxpression (so one has the sensitivity as a tool verses, the sensitivity having them). And also nutrition, proper dieting, hair, nails, make-up etc... Finally our fashion course is always offered as part of a bigger program."

Where you say "an insider" told us that Magdalena Zielinska co-wrote a book...

My answer is:

"When Ms Zielinska found out that I was writing a book about modeling, she asked to write a couple of chapters from the point of view of a model, and I thought it was the right thing to do to give her some credits on the book for that. I met Ms Zielinska in New York, when I was an agent, and helped her get work in the industry, she later on moved to LA and she joined ICA.

This is a business of referrals, and favors, people that work together become friends along the line, and then partner up on other aspects of the industry. For instance, Ms Zielinska has a role on my pilot. She is a fully trained actor, why wouldn't she lend that part? Ms Zielinska is not a business partner of ICA, the simple way to check on that is by going to the corporate office and ask the name of the owner."

Very truly yours,

Helene Goldnadel

See also Modeling Tips: Expert Modeling Advice