Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Is John Casablancas Modeling School a Scam or a Fraud?

To Whom It May Concern:

I recently visited your site and thought it was excellent; it's one of the only sites out there with in-depth information.

I have a question...

Recently at my school we held a career fair with reps from John Casablancas attending. They took headshots of any students interested. They took one of me, and, surprisingly, I got called in for a meeting to discuss further programs in the industry.

Now, not all students who had a picture taken got called in, so in my eyes they must have seen some potential in me.

I went to the one-on-one meeting with my parents, and was told about what the company does and such.

The rep told me it would be in my best interests to start off with the acting industry, and possibly later on move onto modeling.

She recommended a program which cost CDN$995 for a three-month course.

Should I be leary of a scam? Knowing that this was not a mass casting call?

I am an Asian male, and they emphasized how males in my age range and ethnicity are in demand. I am 17, by the way.

The most attractive thing about taking this course is she mentioned we get to meet with Sean, an agent with all the connections.

Now she didn't promise any further jobs; she just said we take it as far as we want to.

I am hesitant to sign up and pay the large fee. It would be appreciated if you could give me any advice.

Thank you,



The first thing you would probably need to know is the rep is (most likely) paid by commission. She may only get paid if you sign up. The more people who she gets to sign up, the more she makes.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it is the opposite of how the industry works: talent agents make their income after the actor works. Thus there is no incentive to tell people what they want to hear.

Why did they recommend you for acting? Based on a headshot? What about acting? Did you read a script?

What are the qualifications of the JC representative? Is the rep not even a talent agent?

You didn't say you had any experience (e.g. high school or college) acting, or that you were interested in acting.

What are they offering at their school? Is it acting classes? You didn't say. Please elaborate. Until now letters about JC said they only offered modeling or charm classes, not acting classes.

Redacted Info

To Whom It May Concern:

I went to John Casablanca for six months.

When I first applied they told me that they would get us a job. So I wanted to go, and my mother thought it was a good idea.

So we paid $1,900 plus $300 up front for the photo shoots.

For the photo shoots we had to do our own hair and makeup. They do not have a studio; we used to have to take pictures outside in the cold.

Then, at the end, after you graduate, they send an agency there, and then the agency tells you that you must have clear skin and you have to be tall.

I'm short so we wasted our time and money.

When I went to an agency in New York City, they told me that my portfolio was not professional, and, if I wanted to be in the agency, I had to get a whole new portfolio.

So, girls and guys, don't fall for the John Casablanca modeling school.


To Whom It May Concern:

I must admit, I am sitting here feeling slightly sick after reading bash after bash upon a company for which I have worked for the past six years.

I have worked in every aspect of my state center's field, but have been instructing for the last four years.

I wanted to say at least a few words in defense of my center and the work that we do there.

First and foremost, it is important to realize that John Casablancas is a school. It is not an agency, although it does have the local MTM agency affiliate. It is a training center.

I personally discussed this with all of my potentials while in admissions and again with my students as an instructor.

I am a 'specialty' instructor at the center. I instruct the Preteen Division, the Plus Ladies Division, and Women 25 and Over.

Luckily for me, for all the discouraging letters I've seen here tonight, I have received dozens of personal letters from former students thanking me for helping them to better themselves.

I recently had a teary visit from a single dad, thanking me for helping his preteen daughter into her adolescence, and a beautiful letter from a surgical nurse who was in my Wednesday night Ladies 25 and Over class.

I definitely am not in my job for the money; trust me, the instructors don't get paid much. Believe me again when I say most of the people that I've had come into my class on day one definitely needed to be there.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people (regardless of age) don't know how to get through a basic job interview, put together a proper resumé, or realize the extreme importance of a first impression.

And for those who still want to believe modeling is all about looks, ask a professional photographer, or client, for that matter, with whom he would rather work:

1) a fantastically beautiful model who comes to a shoot ten minutes late, disorganized and full of herself, who would rather spend the expensive company time discussing her own personal likes and dislikes; or,

2) a girl not quite as beautiful who is on time, well prepared and gets the job done.

Modeling is such a competitive field. John Casablancas is meant to be a tool to help you prepare and help make the best presentation possible. It is not an employment agency.

It is important to me, as an instructor, that each and every one of my students leaves my five-month program a better and more polished person.

It is not my goal that they model. Some of my graduates have had great success in the local market and told me how well prepared they felt.

Other graduates haven't modeled at all, but have landed better jobs or are more polished for their current jobs.

If it were up to me, I would incorporate some of the curriculum into local high schools.

I discuss with my classes the importance of not stereotyping and keeping business tasks separate from personal likes and dislikes.

Appearance and grooming is about only 50% of my class and it still amazes me that some 40-year-old women don't know the first thing about basic skincare and walk around in frosted blue eyeshadow with liner half an inch thick!

I feel very sad reading some of the letters on here from people who said they've been lied to by staff members of my organization. I would never crush a young girl's hopes by promising her a modeling job after the classes end.

What I tell them instead in Session 1 is that I am there to help them present themselves to the world in the very best possible light and have the confidence to go on, even after a rejection or two.

I am glad to have visited the site; it will just make me that much more determined to make sure all of my students are getting their money's worth in confidence, basic skills, and self-presentation, if not a modeling career.

A dedicated JC instructor,


"Good hands alone, do not a surgeon make. Good looks alone, do not a model make."

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