Millie Lewis AMTC
(American Modeling and Talent Convention)
To Whom It May Concern:
I'm usually not one to get involved; however, a recent
letter regarding a young woman with cerebral palsy performing
in the talent finals of AMTC was brought to my attention
and I have no choice.
The letter was obviously sent by a person that didn't
attend either the preliminary or final performance of
this young female contestant.
To say the management of AMTC was upset that she was
in the finals is a lie.
I was one of the judges during the preliminaries and
although the young woman's song and monologue was almost
inaudible, her interpretive dance (yes, from a wheelchair)
She moved her body and arms with grace, timing and dignity.
She used what God gave her to the best of her ability
and did a better job performing than some of the dancers
that could walk.
I believed she was both motivational and inspirational
to anyone that actually witnessed the event. She worked
hard at her routine and it showed. She scored high in
both talent (using what hand God dealt her) and performance
(she was well rehearsed and organized), and my fellow
judges and I saw no reason to allow her handicap to stand
in the way of her being an inspiration and example to
The AMTC management never questioned our decision nor
did they ask us to leave her out of the finals.
After her performance at AMTC's Finals, the young dancer
sat tall and proud receiving an ovation from the capacity
audience on hand.
Yes, I remember that young woman, although I can't remember
her name for the life of me. I remember her smiling,
and many people in the audience crying.
It was her shining moment and regardless of whether
or not a talent scout signed her to a contract, she lived
her dream, even if it was only for one night.
I don't know whether or not she paid to be there and
that isn't my job nor my concern. How can someone put
a price tag on a performance experience?
I attend only the AMTC convention. In January I will
attend my 20th convention. I attend these functions for
two reasons. Firstly, to search for new talent, and,
secondly, to network with some of the finest Managers,
Agents, Casting Directors and Producers in the business.
People that attend the AMTC convention and feel "ripped
off" only have themselves to blame. If you don't
have the talent, attitude, confidence or looks to be
in the business, why are you kidding yourself or your
However, if there is a glimmer of hope there is personality
and talent within, why not take a shot? I've seen contestants
from AMTC signed and cast in commercials, television
series, features and modeling contracts.
You'll never know if you don't try.
Our world is broken down into three kinds of people:
those that make things happen; those that watch things
happen; and those that wonder what happened.
It's been an acting tradition all over the world to
spend thousands of dollars annually on headshots, workshops,
and mailings. They spend this money hoping one of their
headshots falls in front of the right Agent, Manager,
Casting director or producer.
AMTC allows you to cut out the chance and perform in
front of us for one week twice a year. Hit or miss at
least you had an opportunity to show your stuff.
B.C. in Orlando, Florida
Thank you for writing to confirm 1) there was a girl
with cerebral palsy at an AMTC event, and, 2) "the
young woman's song and monologue was almost inaudible."
Like the person who reported the incident, I want to
know if AMTC was jerking her around by selecting her
for song and monologue, and if AMTC exploited her financially.
You said: "I don't know whether or not she paid
to be there and that isn't my job nor my concern." Maybe
it should be your concern. Or are you not concerned when
young girls with disabilities are exploited?
The person who reported the story said or suggested
the girl paid $3,000. Did she pay $3,000? Did she live
in the area of the convention? Or did she have to fly
in and stay at a hotel, running her bill up to $5,000,
as another AMTC competitor said the total cost of the
event can meet and exceed $5,000?
An earlier report also said convention competitors pay
by the number of competitions they enter. If that is
true, did the girl with cerebral palsy pay for the dance
competition, pay extra for the monologue competition,
and pay extra again for the song competition?
Was she required to pay for competitions despite the
fact, to use your words, "the young woman's song
and monologue was almost inaudible"?
Were the AMTC staff somehow handicapped to the point
of not being able to notice the young woman's song and
monologue was almost inaudible, not only when she was
scouted, but also when she was selected?
Did this girl with cerebral palsy receive a telephone
call and hear the telemarketing
script previously submitted to the site?
Isn't there a period of training for all contestants?
Was this girl with cerebral palsy trained by AMTC or
an affiliated school prior to the convention? If she
was trained by them, how did they not know her song and
monologue would be almost inaudible at the convention?
A published report in the Savannah Morning News entitled "Young
hopefuls learn that runway dreams seldom bring runaway
success" quoted Mrs. Carey Arban, the president
of AMTC, criticising traveling model searches, saying: "They
rape girls of their hopes and their potential."
Since AMTC itself conducts model searches which involve
travel, how is it not exploitive to recruit a girl with
a disability and require her to pay to perform in specific
competitions in which she physically could not, i.e.
song and monologue?
I find and I think others will find one of your comments
offensive: "People that attend the AMTC convention
and feel "ripped off" only have themselves
to blame. If you don't have the talent, attitude, confidence
or looks to be in the business, why are you kidding yourself
or your child?"
You are placing the parents and the aspiring talent
on the same level as judges and seasoned casting directors.
How can you do that? They do not have the experience
or the expertise to know if they have "the talent,
attitude, confidence or looks to be in the business." That
is why they go to the convention!
If the AMTC staff and their "national scouts" who
are supposedly experts and industry professionals have
a failure rate as high as or higher than 70%, do they
have the talent, attitude, and confidence to be in the
Model Search America, which runs a similar convention,
reports its failure rate is as high as 80%. AMTC, for
some reason, does not, or cannot report its failure rate.
Why is that?
Whenever you sign new talent, do you keep it a secret
from the hosts of the AMTC? Is it impossible for them
to find out which aspiring models and talent were actually
signed by agencies?
If you and others keep returning to AMTCs, why is it
so difficult for you people to report which models/talent
you met at AMTC were signed and worked? Or do you report
it to them, but it's just they do not report it to us?
"Never, ever pay money upfront for anything." — Sarah
Doukas, Managing Director, Storm Model Management
To Whom It May Concern:
Just wanted you to know that the Call
to Leadership editorial was very good.
I only wish there were some way that consumers could
hold someone accountable for the unethical way this
whole program is put together.
I would be first in line to get my $5,000 reimbursed.
And then to read that script
they use on the callbacks! Oh, yes,
it is very familiar!
I'm sorry that I fell for it.
I'm sorry I am not a blood-sucker and can take people's
money without having any second thoughts. I'm sorry for
these people at AMTC and the judges who feel no responsibility,
that they are so low in ethics that they do not see what
they do to some people by not exactly telling the whole
story up front.
That these people can live with themselves should be
the 8th wonder of the world, and then to try and put
the blame back on the consumer is an insult.
Perhaps there would be enough interest out there to
try and get some recuperation of funds spent at this.
Do you know of anyone out there filing any sort of suit?
I read the
response from the judge called B.C.,
who so eloquently said people who feel ripped only
have themselves to blame.
Obviously this person is a sales person who is
so used to screwing people that they don't recognize
that it is unethical treatment of human beings!
And, of course, that judge would say that because if
there weren't suckers such as myself, they wouldn't get
their "free paid vacation" at the AMTC convention.
Thanks again for all the good work your site does in
preventing further people from getting ripped off!
You asked: "Do you know of anyone out there filing
any sort of suit?" No, I don't.
I don't know that they are committing any crime. There's
a difference between unethical and illegal. You can of
course prosecute for breaking the law, but you cannot
prosecute for unethical business. Unfortunately the federal
government has created no federal law to protect consumers.
The Federal Trade Commission does investigate and sue
modeling agencies. Their focus is deceptive, fraudulent,
and unfair trade. Deceptive and fraudulent trade is illegal;
unfair trade is probably not illegal. The point is there
is some potential for the FTC to intervene even if no
law is broken.
In the UK they were pressing for new legislation to
ban upfront fees. When the same legislation is proposed
in America conventions as we now know them will be illegal.
Or they will not be able to accept upfront fees.
If ML/AMTC is really as good as they claim or people
are led to believe, they will be able to continue without
No upfront fees is the only way to eliminate the conflict
That is of course how they could be run. The aspiring
models only pay once they are signed with an agency.
Then it would be virtually impossible for aspiring models
to be scammed. How could you be scammed if you paid AFTER
you went to a convention and AFTER you are signed by
a reputable agency?
There would be no incentive to overselect models for
the AMTC. It would waste the time and money of the AMTC.
They would only select potential models to go to the
convention after they had been screened by the agents
by photo before the convention.
Someone should start a petition to be signed by hundreds
of former contestants asking AMTC to promote excellence
and integrity in their business by:
- 1) including the prices in their advertising and
on their website;
- 2) including the total expected cost (all expenses)
for the contestants and family members;
- 3) including the success rate defined by models signed
with an agency in their advertising, and on their website,
and in their BBB record (like MSA and NYC Fame);
- 4) requiring all prospective models to be screened
by agents who will attend the convention using the
industry standard photo submissions prior to the convention;
- 5) clearly explaining to all prospective models and
their parents in their advertising and on their website
the need to relocate to a major market in order to
go on go-sees and auditions;
- 6) banning the use of telemarketing scripts for callback
phone calls, and replacing them with the results of
photo screening (see #4), signed by the agencies;
- 7) eliminating all expenses for training prior to
the event because reputable modeling agencies teach
and develop their models for free after they are signed;
- 8) announcing the winners (defined by who was signed
by a successful agency) after each convention and the
number of contestants (success rate); and,
- 9) quit acting self-righteously by bashing other
modeling businesses and acting like the BBB (conflict
of interest), talking about "How To Find Truth
in the Modeling Industry," when it has not dealt
with its own conflicts of interest (see above).
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to relate my experience with the AMTC convention
Unlike the other attendee, there were no hidden costs
to this convention.
Perhaps her director dropped the ball, and I think she
We were given a schedule at least two weeks in advance
of the schedule that listed Sunday as the call back day.
I knew exactly how much the convention was going to
cost, how much I would have to pay to observe, how much
the hotel would be, and was given plenty of time to pay
It was not something we were stuck with once we got
to Florida. And if there was something I was confused
about, I called my director.
(I'm curious as to why she did not?)
The convention was held at a wonderful hotel, everything
was done orderly and very timely, very topnotch.
My daughter had four callbacks, and more than likely
will be spending the rest of her summer in New York modeling.
I can't say what others' experiences were, I only know
that my director gave us 24 hours of training, made sure
our portfolios and comp cards were ready when we went,
got all pertinent information to us before the convention,
and let us know every day when to meet for our agency
She and her other staff were accessible and very supportive
Again, I think her director dropped the ball on her,
In the convention packet I received, it states that
only 25% receive representation; so prepare for the fact
that you won't get a contract, since that is more likely.
I don't know how anyone can say they are a scam when
they tell you right from the beginning what to expect.
I think alluding to the fact that AMTC is a scam is
unfair... to me.
And if Carey Arban makes money from the convention,
she should. It's her job.
You said: "In the convention packet I received,
it states that only 25% receive representation."
Is that a fact? If that is true, perhaps you would like
to explain why Carey Arban, president of AMTC, said:
have not tracked our placement rate in several
years, as it has become impossible to do so."
Both statements cannot be true. One or both of them
are false. Is the truth on the Millie Lewis "Truth
in the modeling industry" web page?
They say, "The modeling industry is fascinating,
compelling, and confusing. You may not know who to trust,
how to enter, if you are qualified, and what is a "scam."
Isn't that the truth?
If it is "impossible" to track the AMTC placement
rate, and they have not been able to track it for "several
years," why did AMTC in print on their convention
packet in 2002 say 25% receive representation?
You also said your director "made sure our portfolios
and comp cards were ready when we went."
Why did you have portfolios and comp cards made BEFORE
getting signed by an agency? Why do experts say you do
not need professional photos, comp cards, or expensive
portfolios before you are signed or so you can get signed?
Who is making money off the portfolios and comp cards?
To Whom It May Concern:
My two children and I attended the American Modeling & Talent
Convention held in Charleston, SC, this past January.
I do agree it was a life-time experience for my children.
It was very organized, professionally directed, and included
many creditable speakers.
Ironically, the only opposing component during the entire
week was Carey Arban, the owner.
Let me explain...
When we were all signing up for an audition time slot
Wednesday night, chaos surrounded the podium.
Once I had the "sign-ups" folder, very few
available slots were left.
I asked about the monologue auditions, but was told
that the "regular schedule had been behind schedule
due to the number of people signing up for auditions,
so just find an open slot and they'll audition with them."
I did not notice the small tab separating the "monologue" time
slots from the "dance" time slots, nor when
I asked the AMTC staff member concerning this matter,
was it ever explained.
With total pandemonium and it being my first time to
this convention, I was confused. However, I did indicate "monologue" beside
my son's name on the sign-up sheet.
The next day, when I had discovered my son could not
audition, I tried to ascertain a solution for the problem.
After speaking with both of Carey's daughters, who were
very polite and empathetic, they referred me to their
When I approached her, she automatically met me with
a rejecting, hateful, "better-than-thou" attitude.
She sarcastically explained this was not "her" fault
and "this is not a Cinderella or beauty pageant
She made it very clear that she did not care at all
if my son had missed his audition, nor that we all had
spent so much time and money to come to this event.
Moreover, the only time she seemed the least bit concerned
is when I asked for my money back for the "added" category,
since he did not get the chance to compete.
Right or wrong, she had no right speaking to me in that
I later found out that another individual who had signed
up for a monologue audition, like my son, was unable
to audition for the same reason.
A few days later, I was told another parent was very
upset for the way Carey had spoken to her daughter.
A third comment was made on how Carey rudely commented
on another contestant's attire, and how she didn't approve
of it. (I didn't know she was one of the judges.)
One would think she would've been more professional,
at the very least. Surely, she could have set a more
I was disappointed and unaware of Mrs. Carey Arban's
reprehensible character. Continual discourteous behavior
will create such a reputation.
Lewis (AMTC) Letters Index