Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Models Center Studios aka Model Center Studios ( Irvine, CA. Vincent Gray, President

April 21, 2005

[Last Updated: December 28, 2005 ]

The Models Center (Irvine, CA)

Additional Trade names:

Gray Derosa's Institute 
Model Center 
The Model Center 
The Models Center 
The Models Center Studios

Email if you want your money back. Consumers complained to the BBB that Models Center Studios sent a collection agency after them. However, there are laws which may apply to enable you to get your money back. This company advertises as if they are a modeling agency, but they aren't.

Email Inquiry

November 2003

The Models Center Studio, 9281 Irvine Blvd., Irvine, CA  92616, claims to be a model management company.

Screening test: $195 includes movement & Make-up Training, Photo Session, Contact Sheet and 1 8x10 black and white print.

However, after the screening test, require $2,900 to put together a portfolio prior to representation to SAG agency.

The price include 12 photo sessions, composite layout & Design, movement and make-up instruction, business seminar and private coaching for auditioning and agency referrals.


The Models Center does not have a talent agency license:

It is illegal for a management company to charge for or make money from photography, comp cards, or training.

Labor Code 1701.2:

(b) "Advance-fee talent service" means a person who charges, attempts to charge, or receives an advance fee from an artist for one or more of the following:

(1) Procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure employment or engagements for the artist.

(2) Managing or directing the development or advancement of the artist's career as an artist.

(3) Career counseling, career consulting, vocational guidance, aptitude testing, evaluation, or planning, in each case relating to the preparation of the artist for employment as an artist.

Prohibited Acts

1701.12. An advance-fee talent service, or its agent or employee, may not do any of the following:

(a) Make, or cause to be made, any false, misleading, or deceptive advertisement or representation concerning the services the artist will receive or the costs the artist will incur.

(b) Publish or cause to be published any false, fraudulent, or misleading information, representation, notice, or advertisement.

(c) Give an artist any false information or make any false promise or misrepresentation concerning any engagement or employment, or make any false or misleading verbal or written promise or guarantee of any job or employment to an artist.

(d) Make any false promise or representation, by choice of name or otherwise, that the advance-fee talent service is a talent agency or will procure or attempt to procure employment or engagements for the artist as an artist.

(e) Charge or attempt to charge, directly or indirectly, an artist for registering or listing the artist for employment in the entertainment industry or as a customer of the advance-fee talent service.

(f) Charge or attempt to charge, directly or indirectly, an artist for creating or providing photographs, filmstrips, videotapes, audition tapes, demonstration reels, or other reproductions of the artist, casting or talent brochures, or other promotional materials for the artist.

(g) Charge or attempt to charge, directly or indirectly, an artist for creating or providing costumes for the artist.

(h) Charge or attempt to charge, directly or indirectly, an artist for providing lessons, coaching, or similar training for the artist.

(i) Charge or attempt to charge, directly or indirectly, an artist for providing auditions for the artist.

(j) Refer an artist to any person who charges the artist a fee for the services described in subdivisions (e) to (i), inclusive, in which the advance-fee talent service has a direct or indirect financial interest.

(k) Accept any compensation for referring an artist to any person charging the artist a fee for the services described in subdivisions (e) to (i), inclusive.

The BBB record for the Models Center (as of November 7, 2003):

Complaints allege failure to disclose there were additional fees for the program prior to accepting payment for the initial screening, and denial of refund requests.

One complainant alleges his credit card was charged when it was to be applied as a deposit to reserve a date.

Another complainant alleges access was denied to attend classes.

In one case, the company failed to honor their offer for a refund when the toddler was unable to cooperate at two scheduled appointments with the photographer because of his short attention span.

Why is a toddler getting professional photography?

The company denied refund requests according to their policy which does not allow for refunds or cancellations.

The advance-fee talent service law allows 10 days for cancellation. Failure to provide the full refund within 48 hours results in the consumer being allowed to get 100% penalties in addition to the full refund.

On their web page "FAQS," they said:

1. Do I really need pictures to work in the business? How much do pictures cost? What other expenses are there, to get prepared to work?
Answer: Yes, if you are going to model or do acting/commercials you need a book and a composite card. Putting together a good book and composite card can range in price from 1500.00 up to 3000.00. Other nominal expenses may be incurred. Knowing how to "read" or audition is important as well as knowing different model poses and expressions for print work.
2. Isn't it true, if someone likes me they will pay for my portfolio/ZED card, etc.?
Answer: NO!! Agents would go broke! That is a totaly untrue myth! What if an agent/model management co. paid for your book/ZED card, etc., and you decided not to pursue your career? They would not be able to stay in business.

This is a false! You do need pictures and comp cards, but you don't need a book. The price for photography can range from $0 (TFP) to the cost of the film (test photographer) to a few hundred dollars. The price for comp cards can range from $100-200.

These people are not even licensed agents, but they want to tell you how agencies work, yet they quote nobody to back up their claims. They claim agents would go broke if they paid for portfolios and zed cards. Firstly, models do not need portfolios starting out, only comp cards. Secondly, as already stated, comp cards don't need to cost more than $100 (for 100). Thirdly, if the models do TFP, it doesn't cost them or the agency anything.

"When a test is arranged by an agency, you will usually not be asked to contribute any photo fee. At most, you will be asked to cover the cost of film and processing (less than $100 at most sittings)." -- Natasha Esch, President of Wilhelmina, New York, 1996 (The Wilhelmina Guide to Modeling, p. 25)

"A legitimate agency does not charge money to be a model. You may pay for some test pictures, but it won't be more than $300 for the entire shoot and everything." -- Joel Wilkenfeld, President, Next Model Management, New York

"If you are signed by a model agent, they will recommend 'test' photographers for your portfolio. Test photographers charge a lower rate since they are looking to build their own fashion portfolio." -- Nina Blanchard, The Nina Blanchard Agency

"According to talent agents, portfolios are developed over the course of a person's career. Therefore novices do not need expensive portfolios." -- BBB

"Do not get a portfolio before getting an agent." -- Nina Blanchard, The Nina Blanchard Agency

Why is this company recommending getting a portfolio before getting an agent?

If you'd like to share your experience, discuss this company, or get your money back, see the email address below.

How to File a Complaint with the District Attorney's Office

From the DA's FAQ:

The DA's Consumer Protection Division may be able to help, or they may refer you to an agency that can help you. You should send your complaint in writing to:

Orange County District Attorney
Consumer Protection Division
401 Civic Center Drive
Santa Ana CA 92701

Phone: (714) 834-3600