Modeling Scams

Model Search America, John Casablancas Modeling School, and

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is B. and I am a model.

Model Search America

The first thing I ever got into was a Model Search America convention. I got a call back from a casting director in NYC, and they told me if I was ever going to be in the area to give them a call and they would send me on auditions.

I agree that MSA is just doing the whole convention for money.

The only thing that came out of the whole weekend is that I found I loved modeling and it was something I really wanted to pursue.

Though I didn't actually start modeling after MSA, I think it is a great way for any girl or guy to find out if modeling is something they want to do.

John Casablancas

After MSA I went to a local John Casablancas, which in my town is also an agency. They do require you to take their classes before you start modeling for them, so I did.

I would recommend modeling school for each and every girl whether she is interested in modeling or not.

It has a great makeup course, hair course, fashion course, and it really gives you self-confidence as far as getting up and speaking in front of people.

In my case, when the classes were over, I signed with their agency, and I started doing local fashion shows, and I did a fashion show on the local news station. I also got offers to do hair shows, though I never did any.

Attending John Casablancas was probably the best thing I ever did for myself.

I decided I wanted to take my modeling to the next level, so I sent my pictures in to the International Cover Model Search ( after seeing their ad in the back of a magazine.

I was contacted and I went to Miami for a photo shoot. The pictures they take are very professional, and they help you start your book.

I didn't even know about the model survivor game until the day of my shoot when one of the photographers told me he wanted to put me on there.

They help you get your portfolio together, and they start trying to market you to agencies. They advise you and tell you how to also start marketing yourself.

We keep in touch and touch base very often. I think it is a wonderful thing to do for any model who needs to work on her book.

They are all wonderful people and they will help you. Even if they can't find an agency that wants you, you now have your book, and when you go into modeling agencies you have experience, and most of the time experienced models are not only more likely to get signed, but they get paid more.

I have no regrets about any of the three things I have done. I think MSA let me know I wanted to model; JCS taught me how; and Seventeen Models has helped me go further.



Can you give us some prices for Model Search America, John Casablancas Modeling School, and How much did they charge?

You said: "I would recommend modeling school for each and every girl whether she is interested in modeling or not."

Your point of view is sharply contrasted with the statement of a modeling and talent agency president who wrote a few days before you and said, "We don't believe in modeling schools because they are a complete scam."

He went on to say his agency provided training free: "We do the development ourselves and do not charge anything for it. Developing a model is part of being a model manager."

Others have said they could learn the same things about hair and makeup they learned at modeling school from their sister or mother, which would of course also be free.

I can't remember for sure how much MSA was —it was so long ago. I believe it was around 400-$500. Then, of course, you have to pay extra for travel expenses.

Modeling school was very expensive. I believe it was about $1,200 if I'm not mistaken, but it was worth twice that much.

Seventeen models was also 400-$500, which is the same amount or less than most photographers want to do comp cards or portfolios.

I know one girl who is with a very big agency —it starts with an 'E' (hint, hint) —and they make you pay for your own comp cards and pics.

When she got her first paycheck in, it was over $5,000. And do you know how much she got out of it? Negative 50 bucks!

That is how much she had to spend on pics and comp cards to get started.

My point here is there are very few models out there who do not have to pay for anything at all as they are getting into the business.

(That girl is making well into the six figures each year, though, so it was well worth it.)

In response to the comment on the modeling schools, I learned so much about myself, and developed such bonds with the people in my class that no amount of money could take that.

I know most agencies do train you for free. They don't want you to make them look bad when you go on go-sees, but the more you already know about modeling, the less they have to teach you.

You and the girl next to you may both be good looking, tall, have wonderful personalities, and rockin' bod's, but if you have no idea how to walk a runway, or about photo movement, and she does, who do you think they are going to sign?

You, who they are going to have to spend time, and money on, or the girl next to you who is just as pretty as you are, and could start working that afternoon making them money if they really wanted her to?

Everyone has their own opinions and views. Mine just happens to be that anything you do in life builds that much more character and helps you in whatever it is you might do in life.

I also think modeling in particular has a lot to do with your situation. I come from a very small town, and in the words of a very wise man from MSA, I will not get discovered walking down the streets of Anytown, USA.

I have to work and get myself out there. It all goes back to the experience thing I spoke of in my former letter. The more you have, the better you are.

Thank you again,



A short time before receiving your last message I read Cindy Crawford's views on modeling schools. She addressed the topic of how to launch a modeling career, and she mentioned her own experience, including how much she paid for photos starting out.

It can be difficult to get started modeling, especially if you don't live near a major city. My advice to young people interested in modeling is to get the Yellow Pages of the biggest city near you and look at different modeling agencies there.
They usually have one day a week or month when they see people for free. If you don't get signed on the first try, you shouldn't worry about it, because the first agency I went to said they weren't sure about me and that I would have to get my mole removed.
Don't worry about one rejection, but if you get ten, you might want to go back to college.
The first agency I went to arranged a test shooting that I had to pay for. It cost $2,000, and it turned out to be a disaster.
However, on that shoot, the makeup artist saw something in me, and he told Elite in Chicago to contact me. They represented me from that point on.
"Modeling schools" are another option, but they are also misnamed; they should be called finishing schools.
They can't guarantee you will become a model, and they won't turn anyone down because you pay a fee.
For example, they will accept a girl who is 5' 1" who will probably only be able to do petites. If you want to learn poise, how to apply makeup, or walk on a runway, then modeling schools are a good option. But just know what you are getting.

I forgot to address your point about your mom and sister being able to teach you the same things as a modeling school.

If your mom (sister) knows and can teach you about photo movement, speech and diction, straddling the runway, modeling bags, portfolios, interviews, and high fashion makeup and hair, then more power to her; mine, however, can't.

Maybe those things just aren't "her thing," though I have a very brilliant mother who has a six-year degree in medicine and owns her own travel nurse company.

As for a sister, I don't have one, so I can't say much about that, but I know my mom even went to cosmetology school and was a hair stylist for a few years, but she didn't know of half the makeup tips and tricks they taught us at modeling school.



What I said was: "Others have said they could learn the same things about hair and makeup they learned at modeling school from their sister or mother, which would of course also be free."

Let me give you the exact quotes from girls who went to a modeling school:

"I learned nothing my older sister couldn't have taught me."

"I could've learned all of that from my mom."

"I spent $1,600 learning how to pluck my eyebrows and set a table."

My point was why pay for something which you called "very expensive" if a) you don't need it, and, b) you can get it free?

You already conceded most agencies teach the same things free: "I know most agencies do train you for free."

I think it has to be noted at this point not all of the students pay for the schools. How many 12- or 14-year-old girls are shelling out $1,200-$1,600 for classes about hair and makeup, etc.?

The girls or their parents can choose to pay for a "modeling school" because it is promoted as a modeling school and a way to become a model, or in spite of the fact it is promoted as a modeling school and a way to become a model.

One girl even said she was not interested in becoming a model, she just wanted to learn about the hair and makeup.

There are different reasons for going to a so-called modeling school. There's nothing wrong with going to school to learn about hair and makeup, etc., even if your family or friends or whomever can teach you.

The point is an informed decision should be made, and parents or their daughters should not be misled by advertising which portrays, either explicitly or implicitly, that a modeling school is necessary to be discovered, etc.

The best summary of my point I have read so far was found on usenet: "Modeling schools are a "Charm School." If you want to be charming go there. If you want to be a model see an agent."

Modeling schools can have different standards, different training, and different teachers, because they have franchises around the U.S.

The other thing that parents or potential models could find annoying is if they are led to believe a modeling school is the solution to get their daughter discovered, they can put everything into that, nothing else, and not go directly to agencies in person or with photos where they could actually get signed and get work.


Frank Longo, a professional photographer who takes fashion and commercial photos, wrote a modeling guide for aspiring models called: "Getting Started in Modeling."

In a section entitled, "OK, How do I get started," he wrote:

Forget about modeling schools. Many agencies do not consider people who admit to have gone to a modeling school. They (the agencies) feel that they will need to spend too much time retraining the model to bother with them. If you already have gone to modeling school, then never admit to an agency that you have.

I've heard agents laugh when they see a modeling school listed on an aspiring model's resume; I've read a model say she does not put her modeling school training on her resume.

It is easier to teach someone from scratch than it is to retrain them. Do the modeling schools get their curriculum approved by all the modeling agencies? There is no industry standard.

One part of the curriculum at "modeling schools" is makeup. Let's look at the the issue of makeup in the context of what should be the primary purpose of a modeling school, i.e., getting signed by a modeling agency.

Little to no makeup is preferred by modeling agencies which have to evaluate prospective models. They want to see the real you. They want to see natural skin tone and current skin condition. They can't tell if there is flawless skin when there is a lot of makeup.

Affinity Model and Talent, for example, lists its requirements for photo submissions by aspiring models, saying: "excessive makeup" is "unacceptable," but "little to no makeup" is "acceptable." Their open call guidelines said potential models should look themselves to let "the real you show through."

Jett Models, an agency which conducts a model search, is even more emphatic: "NO makeup" (original emphasis).

Ford Models says the same thing. Prospective models are advised to send pictures to their office in New York. "The pictures should capture your natural look without makeup."

Makeup application skills therefore are not required to get discovered.

Any makeup application skills a girl might need as a model can be learned from the agency free, or at a "modeling school," in a book, or wherever, after she is discovered. She can cross that bridge when she gets to it. Especially if learning outdated or unwanted techniques is going to put her at a disadvantage.

How can she know what the agencies want?

Imagine paying more than a $1,000 to attend a "modeling school" to get an advantage at being signed by a modeling agency, only to discover after finishing the school that it put you at a disadvantage, because the agencies did not want to retrain you. The aspiring model thinks she will get discovered because she went to the school, but she is not discovered because she went to the school.

Related:Modeling Photography and Convention Prices

Related:Cindy Crawford's Views on Modeling Schools

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