Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) - Questions / Complaints

To Whom It May Concern:

I have a friend who has been selected through the Celtic Talent agency in Ireland to go to the IMTA convention in LA.

She has been charged 6,000 euro to attend this event, as well as other fees, such as 200 euro for a portfolio and test shots.

After attending a meeting with her, I noticed that a lot of the other people invited by the agency to attend were not exactly modelling material.

I feel that this whole event is one big scam run by the agency and IMTA to cash in on the hopes of these impressionable young people.

I would really appreciate your opinion on the matter.

K.D. in Ireland


You said: "I noticed that a lot of the other people invited by the agency to attend were not exactly modelling material."

Your conclusions are similar to those of industry professionals. The agents at the conventions tell or infer the participants are not exactly modeling material, because they select very few people. The success rates are extremely low.

Why? There is no accountability, there is nothing to stop the convention organizers from inviting as many people as possible, as many as will pay their extreme upfront fees.

There are two conflicts of interest, firstly with the convention organizers, and secondly, with the agencies. Not only are the convention organizers paid thousands of dollars up front, but also the agencies which send people to the convention are paid a commission to convince models to go.

A reputable talent agency is not going to send a model thousands of miles across the world to a convention which requires extreme upfront fees, when they can promote the model directly to the agencies which attend the convention using portfolios or even snap shots.

Sean Patterson, an agent in the Men's Division of Wilhelmina, one of the top modeling agencies, warned against modeling conventions. Of all the problems in the modeling industry, his biggest concern was conventions:

If there was one thing I could change about the industry it would be to institute a more rigid policing of the model conventions that are being held all over the country.

There is no policing and there are no laws. Therefore the only screening standard is the conscience of the person running the show. If they don't screen potential models using photos, sending them to the agents who will attend the convention, letting them decide if they want to see them, before anyone pays any money, have they no conscience?

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To Whom It May Concern:

I am a 16-year-old girl who was picked to go to the IMTA convention in New York. I was taking classes in Boston when I auditioned. At the casting call, the people there showed us video tape of all the "success stories" and people who were discovered by IMTA (which instantly drew everyone in).

A few days after my audition, I was told that I was one out of 75 chosen to go to New York in July and that I had to pay $5,000 just to go. I really want to make it in the acting/modeling world, and I, like everyone else, was suckered in to it.

My parents, the wise people they are, refused to send me, even though I pleaded and pleaded.

Later, during my next class, all the kids were talking about how they made it, but couldn't go (in fact, only two out of the 15 people in my modeling class had the money).

What?! I don't mean to sound crude or offensive, but these girls were certainly NOT Hollywood/Milan material. They were ugly, ignorant, rude to adults, and they all had big New England accents that made them mispronounce every second word that flabbed out of their mouths (e.g. "bedda" instead of "better"; "madda" instead of "matter," etc.)

The one girl who could go said she was "too short" to be a model and that she was going for acting. Needless to say, she never took ONE acting class in her life and had NO previous experiance. She wasn't even interested in acting before this. I am sure that I was the only one out of any of them who was really serious about acting.

Well, my parents and I talked about it, and they insisted the whole thing was a [...]. I talked about it with the drama teacher at my school and he said it was a [...].

Then, during my last modeling class in which the instructor tells us what to do after graduating and waves the IMTA video in our faces again, I asked her what my drama teacher told me to ask, very politely, "Excuse me, but what is the success rate for people who go to IMTA?" There was no maliciousness or interrogation in my voice, just a calm, wondering tone.

The instructor bluntly responded, "I am sorry, but that is closed information!" or something very similar to that. (I forget her exact words, but she said it almost as if I offended her in some way.) Even the other girls in that room looked at me as if I had insulted them.

Shortly after, one girl bragged about how she was going to "Give my friend money when I get rich." I asked her how she would make that money and she said, "Acting. I'm goin' ta IMTA next yee-ah. I'm geddin' a sponsah." (Sponsor, mind my phonetic dialect in writing).

I had to pity her.

So, now that my long, tedious story is over, what do you think? Was it right of my parents to refuse to let me go, or should I audition next year and get a sponsor to pay for my trip?

Redacted Info

P.S. Thank you for taking your time to listen to me. I know my letters are way too long!

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