Millie Lewis AMTC
(American Modeling and Talent Convention)
To Whom It May Concern:
My daughter has been working with an agent in Lilburn,
GA, and he is promoting the Millie Lewis AMTC convention,
and I am wondering how legitimate it is, and if it a
good opportunity for my daughter to break into modeling?
Modeling conventions, many people argue, are neither
the cheapest nor the best way to "break into modeling."
They can get results, and they do. The problem is the
advertising and marketing of the conventions typically
does not add the most ethical disclaimer.
They will probably use a disclaimer to say they cannot
guarantee work, and applicants should not expect to become
supermodels, but wouldn't the best disclaimer be a statement
of their success rate saying what percentage of aspiring
models find representation with reputable agencies?
There are watered-down statistics, sometimes, like the
number of "call backs." Call backs are signs
of interest which may or may not be sincere. (They require
neither commitment nor expense, and they can be faked.
Agents can be paid to fake them.)
Millie Lewis has been around for a long time and it
is apparently a legitimate business to the degree real
agents or real agencies show up at conventions to scout
talent, compared with other searches or conventions which
are attended by the agency receptionist.
The president of Millie Lewis has written a
defence of the company.
Millie Lewis has been criticised for having an extreme
focus on making money, one
observer noted: "They haven't missed
a trick at how to make a buck."
If you are looking for a good opportunity to help your
daughter break into modeling or be discovered, consider
phoning the big agencies in New York.
Elite, one mother reported, asked how tall her daughter
was, and said she could send a picture.
One of the best pieces of advice from someone who works
at Blackwood-Steele in New York was: "Any intermediary
is usually a waste of money. Do it yourself works just
You may want to find out which agencies are going to
attend the convention and then send them a snapshot before
your daughter goes. If they want to see her, then it
might make more sense to attend the convention.
Dear Modeling Scams,
I am surprised that you would include a letter from
someone who has never been to our event. Have you called
any of the modeling or talent scouts listed on our website
to see what they think of the Millie Lewis Convention?
They have no reason to be biased or lie. They have no
financial interest in our company.
When you imply that our successes had little to do with
our event, that is a complete misassertion. How do you
think these hundreds of models and actors got connected
with their agents? Do you think that Hope Riley, Rachel
Caulk or Whitney East flew to Japan to get their contracts
to become Japanese covergirls?
Do you think that the majority of parents have the time,
money, knowledge or connections to take their children
to meet over 100 reputable agents in four days in one
When you imply that call-backs can be faked and that
agents can be paid to fake them, that is also off-base.
Do you think top names in the industry would come to
an event that also hosted such scams? They don't need
the money, and they don't have the time.
Let me share with you an interesting story concerning
Marie Anderson, co-owner of Aria in Chicago and author
of the highly-regarded book Model: A Complete Guide.
Marie also discovered Cindy Crawford.
At an agents' panel discussion at our convention, an
intelligent parent asked the question, "Of the models
you bring to your agency, how many make it a career?"
Marie hesitated, looked at the other agents for guidance,
as if uncomfortable with the question.
She finally answered that two or three out of an average
10 who appear to have the look to be successful models
actually stay and make it a career.
I believe this startling statistic exists because the
models and their families do not understand the industry,
and the agents do not have the time to educate them.
AMTC does educate them.
With over 24 hours of training before they come to our
event, and a steady stream of excellent workshops given
by renowned experts, like Marie. Because of this fact,
AMTC placements have a much greater likelihood of long-term
I applaud your efforts to police this industry, but
before we're listed as a potential scam, I would like
you or your staff member to come to our event, talk to
our contestants, attend our workshops and speak to the
Carey Lewis Arban
The Millie Lewis American Modeling and Talent Convention and
Millie Lewis International, Inc.
I didn't have a problem including the letter from someone
who criticised your company because going to your event
wouldn't have made any difference.
The point was Millie
Lewis "haven't missed a trick at how to make
a buck." O.D. did not have to attend
a convention to know you are making money from your
event. I have not heard this claim disputed by you
or anyone else.
I have read comments about your company from agents
who attended your modeling convention. I don't dispute
them. But you never said anything about the people who
pay to attend the convention and don't get discovered.
There are two groups here, the aspiring models and the
modeling agencies. If you have a list and the comments
of people who attended Millie Lewis conventions but did
not get anywhere as a result, I'd be interested to hear
what they have to say.
When you said, "When you imply that our successes
had little to do with our event, that is a complete misassertion," I
assume you are referring to the comments of O.D., who
am sure if you tracked their success stories you
would find attending this convention had very little
to do with them making it.
You wrote that Marie Anderson "finally answered
that two or three out of an average 10 who appear to
have the look to be successful models actually stay and
make it a career... I believe this startling statistic
I don't know if this statistic is either accurate or
relevant to a discussion about being discovered at modeling
conventions. Marie Anderson did not sound confident in
her answer ("hesitated, looked at the other agents
for guidance"), and she did not say they were tracking
the numbers and compiled data.
More importantly, it sounds as if you are not talking
about people who attend Millie Lewis modeling conventions.
In this discussion, the main issue is neither the percentage
of people who stick with modeling to become career models,
nor the success rate of modeling agencies, it is the
success rate of modeling conventions, specifically the
In a previous
letter you addressed this issue, and
you yourself said it had become increasingly difficult
to determine if your company's modeling conventions
are successful in the primary objective of those
who pay to attend:
- We have not tracked our placement rate in several
years, as it has become impossible to do so.... Because
of the issues above, we decided at the beginning of
this year that we would no longer refer to "Placement
Rate" in any of our scouting or advertising.
If you don't track your success rate, either because
you can't, or you won't, why should anyone believe it
is more successful or cheaper than other recommended
ways of being discovered?
The president of the Models Guild has said it may be
fun and informative (I believe you have said it is),
to attend a modeling convention, and I agree with her,
but she also pointed out it is unlikely to be the best
way to spend your money, and I also agree with her on
that point, too. When Rhonda Hudson made her statements,
she did not give any exceptions. She did not say every
convention except Millie Lewis.
There are other ways of learning and being discovered
which are either cheap or free. You can learn about the
modeling industry by reading books, like the one you
mentioned earlier, Model: A Complete Guide by Marie Anderson.
You can send quality snapshots to agencies, attend open
calls, or visit agencies.
I agree with the basic modeling advice of Marie Anderson: "One
of the best ways to get started is to contact your local
agencies and see when they have their "open calls." Note:
she did not say one of the best ways to get started is
to go to a modeling convention. Why is that?
Cindy Crawford, for example, went with her father to
modeling agencies in Chicago. They lived in Illinois,
so he took a day off work, and drove her to Chicago,
where, he said, they got a phone book, tore out the modeling
agencies in the Yellow Pages, and they went directly
to the offices of the modeling agencies.
You wrote: "Marie also discovered Cindy Crawford." Really?
I have watched the documentary about Cindy Crawford
Portrait, where Cindy Crawford is interviewed
from beginning to end, along with her father and mother,
and I don't remember Cindy ever saying she was discovered
However, I have heard many people claim they discovered
For example, some say she was discovered by the Elite "Look
of the Year Contest" in 1982 at age 17 when she
Another claim (from a Northwestern alumni website!)
was an unnamed photographer discovered Cindy Crawford
at a mall while she was a student at Northwestern University,
and suggested she try modeling.
Another claim is Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski
discovered Cindy Crawford while she was at Northwestern.
Then there is the claim Cindy Crawford had already been
discovered when she was 16 by the local news photographer
where she lived in DeKalb, Illinois.
And now your claim Cindy Crawford was discovered by
So who do you believe when all these claims are made
about how a model was discovered and by whom?
Why not hear it from the horse's mouth? Why not listen
to Cindy Crawford tell the story in her own words?
When she was a 16-year-old high school student, Cindy's
summer job was detasselling corn.
CC: "There was a local photographer who worked
for the paper, and in DeKalb, like, the one photographer
covered everything, from, you know, if there was a fire,
to high school basketball games, parades, all that. And
he came up to me, and asked if he could do some pictures
of me. They were published, like, in the local college
IP: "Suddenly people were saying: 'Cindy you should
be a model.' "
DC: "I took off work one day, and her and I drove
into Chicago, stopped at a phone booth, I think, I think
we tore the Yellow Pages out of modeling agencies, and
literally went around the city up into these offices."
The first agency they visited was not keen. They noticed
her mole, and raised the possibility of removing it,
but they agreed to a test shoot.
The first test shoot pictures were awful: the clothes,
the hair, and the makeup.
IP: "Some new test photos were taken and suddenly
Cindy Crawford had a job offer —a modeling job
CC: "My first job was a bra ad for Marshall Fields."
Cindy Crawford was already discovered and she was already
a model while she was in high school, that is, before
she moved to Chicago.
She was already getting enough work modeling in Chicago
that in her senior year in high school she studied in
the morning, and worked as a model in Chicago in the
Despite her focus on modeling work while she was in
high school, she still graduated with straight As in
June 1984, and in fact she won a scholarship to Northwestern;
she attended Northwestern in the fall of 1984.
But the documentary said Cindy Crawford left Northwestern
after only one semester to model full time in the spring
of 1985. She realized modeling could not wait, whereas
she could return to study later, so she dropped out of
The reason for the claims Victor Skrebneski discovered
Cindy Crawford could be that after dropping out of university,
she worked with him in Chicago for two years. "I
was modeling in Chicago for, really, two full years."
Skrebneski was the premier fashion photographer in Chicago,
and she credits him with teaching her a lot about modeling
and professionalism, but not for discovering her.
Since Cindy Crawford had already been modeling before
she worked with Victor Skrebneski, the claim he discovered
her is obviously bogus. I have not heard him try to take
credit for discovering Cindy Crawford, but I have read
others give him the credit.
Ironically, Crawford credits Skrebneski for being the
person who tried to manipulate her from becoming an international
model by moving from Chicago to New York and working
for a top agency.
IP: "Elite, a top modeling agency, wanted her in
She said she was scared.
CC: "Victor Skrebneski did not want me to leave
and he kinda told me he was the only one who could take
a good picture of me, and I would be a fool to leave,
and if I did leave, he would never work with me again."
It looks as if they have never worked with each other
again —or even spoken to each other again!
IP: "Victor and Cindy have not spoken since the
day she left Chicago in 1986."
I trust you now see why I don't believe everyone who
says they discovered Cindy Crawford or any other model
if they can't prove it.
The point of all this is it calls into question any
claims made by Marie Anderson about the numbers she gave,
and if you give her the credit and you are unable or
unwilling to give out accurate information about who
is responsible for discovering models, when you are a
scouting business, how can we trust scouting success
data/claims/advertising you provide about Millie Lewis?
This is one industry where you should not believe what
people cannot prove. Bogus name dropping sucks!
Photography and Convention Prices
[Modeling Agency President Speaks Out Against Expensive Conventions]
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