Millennium Model Management
Questions / Concerns
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently interviewed with Millennium Model Management in Vienna, Virginia.
They said they liked me and wanted to sign me. However, they also wanted a nice sum of money for classes, photos, and registration.
I know this is a good sign of a scam, but I did research on the agency, and everything says it's legit.
I'm still not so sure about it, so I was wondering if you know anything about this agency, including if anyone has complained about getting ripped off.
I really don't want to pass up a good opportunity, but I also don't want to blow my money away.
If you could email me back ASAP, it would be greatly appreciated.
Did you approach Millennium Model Management first or did they approach you?
No complaints re. Millenium Model Management in VA, but there were three VA agencies who were running a scam and were busted a few years ago. They were charging models for classes and photos. The FTC fried them.
When you said you researched them, can you elaborate? What questions did you ask? What did you find out?
There is a BBB record for:
Millennium Model Management LLC
The BBB Business Classification is Schools-Modeling. This is not a good sign. It says it's a BBB member, but don't be misled by that if it is a modeling school.
There is an Additional Business Classification of "Modeling / Talent Agencies," but if they are charging for classes, it is not a good sign.
Did you shop around? Are there other agencies you have contacted or can contact? Do they also want to be paid up front? Do they charge for classes and registration?
There are basic questions to ask. Since Vienna, VA, is not a major market, there may be very, very little work, much less than would allow you to recoup the cost of registration, schools, and photos.
This is a list of Questions to Ask Modeling Agencies. Much of it is on performance. Performance is a significant issue in small markets.
Also you can ask them why they charge a registration fee when it is illegal in some states and why they charge for classes when most agencies (the BBB reports) give classes to their models FREE.
You are dealing with people you do not know and a significant conflict of interest. They could offset the conflict of interest only by making payment due AFTER they get you work. If they are unwilling to do that, take the hint.
To Whom It May Concern:
My sister's daughter, age 13, went to a modeling search in Cincinnati put on by MSA.
She was one of the ones chosen to pay $500 to attend a modeling show in Columbus with a chance to go to New York. She was not chosen to go to New York.
But about a week later, she got a call from Millenium Model Management.
Their website address is: www.millennium-models.com.
She went to their Cincinnati office and signed a contract with an agent who told her that she won't believe how her life is going to change now that they are her agent.
Millenium Model Management encouraged her to go to training classes in Cleveland, and said that they are going to have a photographer fly in from New York to assemble a portfolio for her. There is no charge for the classes; however, the photos will cost $1,000.
After doing some reading it appears to me that this is a classic rip-off where they will have invested a lot of money, but will be forgotten once their last check clears their bank.
My sister claims this is a legitimate agency and has visions of stardom for her daughter.
This is a real touchy subject. I don't want to stand in the way of their success; however, common sense tells me this will turn out to be money thrown away.
Can you share your opinion on this matter?
Common consumer protection advice is to be leery of an agency which requires people to use a particular photographer.
For example, the FTC says, "Steer clear of modeling companies that require you to use a specific photographer."
But this is exactly what Millenium Model Management is doing, isn't it?
Instead of recommending several different photographers, they choose one, and she is expected to pay. They may not have said they "require" use of their photographer, but the way they set it up, it amounts to the same thing.
Did they even provide the name of the photographer? The website address to review his portfolio? Will they throw a fit if she uses another photographer? Are there any local photographers with lower rates? Are there no photographers in Ohio? Why would you want to fly in a photographer from NY?
A possible warning sign in this case is if the new model does not do a cheap/free test photo shoot before paying for a portfolio. There has to be proof and not speculation a model is good in front of a camera. You can't make assumptions. Some people may look good in person, but they are not good in front of a camera.
In modeling photography scams, the new model is asked to go straight to spending money, typically hundreds of dollars, a thousand dollars, maybe more, without first being tested. When a company wants your money, they don't care if you test well, or even if you are tested. Testing can just slow down the process of them taking $1,000.
From the story you told, it sounds as if everything is moving just a little too quickly, from the model show to the phone call, from the signing of the contract, to the setting up of the $1,000 portfolio photo shoot.
Does she really need a portfolio starting out if she is not in New York, they cannot get her work as a fashion model, and she is still only 13? Or will comp cards be enough for now? Comp cards should cost a lot less than $1,000, and you don't need a NY/fashion photographer for them.
You said: "An agent told her that she won't believe how her life is going to change now that they are her agent."
Really? They have never done a test photo shoot (?), she has never modeled before (?), she is 13, and they are so convinced her life is going to change?
Are they so convinced in her potential they will not require payment for photos as upfront fees but instead take the payment from her first paycheck after she was worked?
It sounds awful like the common and tired pickup line, "You won't believe how much money you will make."
The company description from the MMM website was: "Provides full service modeling management, with offices in Washington, DC, Cleveland, and Kansas City."
The BBB info: "The headquarters for Millennium Model Management, of which the Cleveland office is a franchise, is located in Vienna, Virginia."
The BBB report on Millenium Model Management explained the connection between Millenium Model Management and Model Search America.
If you were wondering why she received a phone call from Millenium Model Management after attending Model Search America...
This is apparently a company with a history of upfront fees working with another company with a history of upfront fees. They have charged people for modeling training, despite the fact reputable agencies do not do this, they provide the training free, and modeling schools have been criticised by leaders and agencies as scams.
There are business relationships between model search companies and modeling agencies where, for example, the model search will pay the agency for recruiting, creating a conflict of interest. Then you have other partnerships where one company sells its mailing list to its partner.
In this case, if MMM has a business partnership with MSA, was MMM at the regional show?
You said: "About a week later, she got a call from Millenium Model Management."
It didn't sound as if MMM was at the MSA show. If not, why not? Did they make the phone call because they had seen her? Or if they had not seen her (because they were not at the show), why was MMM contacting her? If you have any more details, please provide them, but it just sounds as if she may have been scouted by MMM even though they had never even seen her.
The BBB record also says the complaints against Millenium Model Management have been in several areas: "contract disputes, selling practices, and billing disputes."
Apparently the disputes were resolved, but she may want to inquire from either the BBB or MMM about the past problems, and compare her specific situation to the previous complaints.
If your sister has already made up her mind, there is little you can do. But it may be worth suggesting she doesn't put all her eggs in one basket, so to speak, and contact local agencies seeking additional representation.
Exclusive contracts are to be avoided as much as possible, so models can get as much representation as possible. If the MMM situation does not pan out, but she still has photos she can use elsewhere, all is not lost.
One basic approach to starting out is to shop around at all the agencies within driving distance. Find out who can get you the type of modeling jobs you want, who has the best client list, who has the best resume, who has the best reputation, who has been around the longest, whose name is at the top of the Rolodex, who does not want a long-term exclusive contract, and who does not charge upfront fees.
To Whom It May Concern:
I saw a letter about Millennium Model Management, and I thought I would add my experience.
I met with this agency at MSA, which is a whole scam story itself, but I digress.
I'm from Pennsylvania, but Millennium insisted that I drive four hours to Washington, D.C., to meet with them, so I did.
When I got to Washington, I had to read a short script and walk a runway in front of a room full of other potential models, parents, etc.
There were 12 people at the audition, and they kept only two of us.
They interviewed me separately after everyone had left, and said that I was a "B" model. They said everyone that they made leave were "C" models, and had no potential, but that to sign with them exclusively, I had to be an "A" model.
I found this funny. He went on to say that to be an "A" model, I would need to take their classes and pay for their photos. The total cost came to $1,400.
He insisted that after I learned more about runway (which I had already had experience doing), and acting (which I told him I had absolutely no interest in doing), I would get tons of work.
So here I am, a new potential model, begging my mother to pay this money...
And so she pays...
I drive up to D.C. for the first class. Then the Cleveland branch of Millennium opens up, and it's only a two-hour drive from me, so they allow me to switch places.
At Cleveland, I meet their agent there, and she sets up my photo shoot. She never says anything about the classes, and I never took the rest of them. I didn't want to take them, I had already taken a lot of modeling classes.
(Nevertheless, funny how they didn't think I needed classes so badly after they had their paycheck.)
Continuing, the photographer —a very rude, angry, unprofessional man —comes to Cleveland.
Do we get our own shoot?
No! There's about 20 of us that he takes out in a group. We have to do our own hair and makeup, and pick out our own clothes.
The photographer takes no more than 10 photos in each outfit, making us choose our own poses.
Let's see now, new models doing their own hair and makeup, choosing their own poses, and picking out their own outfits, with a photographer who apparently hates his job, and has to shoot 19 other people in that same hour...
I bet you can guess how great those photos turned out.
Anyways, they picked out five photos for my composite cards. When they came, I drove all the way back to Cleveland to pick up my cards... and they are all bent. They say there's nothing they can do about it.
Then they urged me to put my photos online. An "agency" which is supposed to be "representing" me, and making money off me getting work, actually charged me almost $200 to be on their website.
I'm actually on it now. Do you know how much work I've gotten from my comp cards and their website? None. Zero. I know about a dozen other girls from that agency whom I've met. Guess how much work they've got? None.
I did one runway show that they sponsored, but you had to volunteer to do it. It was a weekend long, and it was the most unorganized event ever, and nobody got paid for it.
However, every model in it was with Millennium, and it was the only job any of us had gotten from them.
My advice: Avoid them, save your money.
Today I model for a local agency which has provided me with a lot of work. I've done print work, promotional work, calendar work, runway work, web ads, and more.
Send your photos out to legit agencies... as in, those who charge you NOTHING!
Also, don't pay for photography... you can go to a reputable model-photographer network website and find a photographer who will do TFP (Time for Print).
You work together, nobody gets paid. He gets to use your photos in his portfolio; and you use them in yours.
I've done a dozen of them at least, and the photos have been just as good if not better than the ones I paid for.
Just my two cents.
Happy modeling, everyone!
To Whom It May Concern:
I have a contract with Millennium out of Cleveland.
Two years ago, I got a call back from Model Search America from Millenium. I paid $1,000 for a portfolio, and didn't even bother with the comp cards.
First of all, I live in NY, so I drove seven hours to Cleveland and stood in line with about 40 other girls while their photographer took about 15 pictures.
I did my hair and I picked my outfit. I was told I would be given a professional styling, blah, blah.
Bull. I have not heard another word from the agency. The last issue I had with the agency was that my life was about to change, no, not the way I thought, after struggling through an almost critical eating disorder my life still isn't normal.
When I signed that contract I was told I was perfect; then later put on a special diet, which unless you love lettuce and spinach only all the time, you'll starve; then told my legs were too tone, and on and on.
I am 5'9; I weighed 82 pounds before I gave up on them, but they were still pushing, they couldn't get any clients for me until I lost weight.
I waited until my pics came in and left.
Protect your family. My advice from my experiences.