A Model Search Experiance
There are hundreds of model searches and conventions taking place
every year. Some are conducted by large modeling agencies like
Wilhelmia, Ellite or Ford, some by fashion magazines and others
are local (my local newspaper, The Oregonian, conducted one here
in Portland, OR last month). A whole industry has sprung up around
nationally run model searches and conventions. I have seen weekend
searches and conventions charge attendees from $325 to as much
as $4000. When laying out that kind of money, with the promise
of being discovered and becoming a super model, the question
arises are these convention and searches a way to get a career
started or are they a rip off? The following are the experiences
of one individual who was kind enough to take the time to email
me her experiences with one of the model searches.
Thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it. Here is what
I have to say about Model Search America:
I heard on the radio that Model Search America (MSA) was having
open calls in my city, so I decided to go to one of them. My
boyfriend went with me for moral support. The open call was held
at a hotel and we were given forms to fill out when we got there.
We realized right away that the forms are for marketing purposes
mainly because it asked questions like "Where is your favorite
place to shop for clothes." The room was full of aspiring
models of all ages. We all sat and watched a video clip during
our wait for David Mogul to enter the room. David Mogul is a
former Ford model and the president of Model Search America.
The clip showed us success stories of people who took advantage
When David walked in, he told us to line up with our forms. We
then stood in a line as we listened to loud runway music and
watched to people in front of us be evaluated by David Mogul
and his employees who are scouts for MSA. When it was my turn,
I walked up to him and handed him my form. He asked me to smile,
so I did. Then he asked if I had modeled before. Then he told
me to have a seat. He barely looked at anyone, yet made a quick
judgment on whether or not we were model material. After telling
those he did not want to please leave, we were left with a room
full of about 15 people. He had chosen us to go to the regional
Model Search America convention in New Orleans. He told us how
if we knocked on doors in New York or L.A. , it would cost us
thousands of dollars. He said paying for a portfolio and going
to modeling schools are rip offs and that MSA would give us the
chance to model without all the expenses of getting there. He
said that reputable agencies will not make you pay for photo
shoots or training. He went through a whole sales pitch of how
much cheaper and more productive MSA is than knocking on doors.
He told us that he only works with the most reputable agencies
from around the world and this would be our chance to have a
moment in front of all of them. He told us the only fee we would
have to pay is $395 to register for the convention and we had
only ten days to register. David Mogul chose both my boyfriend
and myself to go to this convention.
We went home and did our research on MSA and could not find any
major things wrong with the convention. We read complaints on
message boards, but saw just as many complaints as satisfactoriness.
So, my boyfriend and I each decided to scrape up the $400 a piece
for the convention fee(which had to be paid in cash or money
order), charge $230 a piece on our credit cards to pay for hotel
expenses and buy a $120 plane ticket each to get to this event.
I didn't even mention the cost of food and rolls of 35 mm film
and development. David Mogul told us we did not need professional
photos, but we would need to bring a variety of pictures to the
event to show agents. David Mogul made it seem like we were definitely
going to be represented by an agency if we get call backs. He
didn't lie to us, but he did NOT tell us what we would later
learn at the convention.
The convention started on Saturday and ended Sunday evening.
Saturday was full of guest speakers the first part of the day.
They sold make-up and model search America memorabilia outside
the hotel ballroom. There was a session for us to quickly have
a MSA staff person flip through our pictures and pick two that
we would show the agencies. We could also stand in extremely
long lines in order to get a quick tip from a hair-stylist or
make-up artist. VH1 Host, Roshumba was there selling her book
called modeling for dummies or something like that. The second
part of the day, we learn how to walk on a runway. Two supermodels
were there and showed us the walk and we got the chance to practice.
Sunday would be the big day to be seen by all the agencies. In
the morning, we had the chance to be very quickly introduced
to the representatives from each agency. They were on the stage
and just told who they were and what they were looking for. Big
agencies were there such as Elite, ID, Page Parkes, Next, Ikon,
JAM, Wilhelmina, Click, L.A. Models, Neal Hamil and more. Then
the runway show started. They played loud runway music as an
announcer called off each person's name and number as he/she
walked the runway. There were about 3 people on the runway at
the same time. Everything moved really fast. I walked the runway
and had my moment in the spotlight. After the runway show, we
lined up again to walk quickly by the panel of agents and show
them our pictures (we never stopped to talk). Then it was time
for callbacks. Here came the major moment of truth. I received
three callbacks and my boyfriend had none. Then, David Mogul
announced, "Just because you got a callback, it does not
mean a thing. It does not mean that you now have an agent."
That was never explained to us until that moment. So, the next
step was to go meet the agents who called me back. Each one just
took a picture of me and told me to call them in a few weeks
if they did not call me.
So, that was it. The convention was over. I waited two weeks
and called the agent I was most interested in. He told me I was
one of the 16 girls they chose to represent out of the 60 girls
they called back at the convention. He also wanted me to fly
to New Orleans as soon as possible to do a photo shoot. I would
have to pay for my plane ticket ($120), pay for the shoot ($375),
pay for the prints ($15 each) and pay for my composite cards
($125 for a box of 50). The whole purpose of going to Model Search
America was because David Mogul said the agencies that attend
his event are only the reputable ones that will not charge you
money. I would only make money. Ha! He never informed us that
some of the agencies at his event would make us still pay. I
learned the hard way that I can knock on doors and spend either
the same amount of money I've spent on model search America or
less and find an interested agency in the process that will have
enough money to not charge me for materials and such.
David Mogul is a very smart man with a very strong marketing
background or source (or common sense for that matter.) He sells
a dream and makes you feel like your getting a deal when you
are really just getting a good lesson about the business. Now
some people (Very, Very few) may be happy with the outcome, but
it doesn't mean they couldn't have reached that outcome with
out Model Search America. There were about 1,000 people in that
ballroomand I watched the majority of all those aspiring models
walk out without a single callback. Now I feel empty handed (probably
just like they felt) and If you conducted a poll of the number
of callbacks that got what they wanted from this, I'm more than
sure you'd learn that I'm not the only one that feels this way.
My advice to other aspiring models or actresses(actors) is to
knock on doors in your area first.
Thank you for having me share my experience with you.
I have now heard from several other wannbes who have confirmed
this information. So this is not an isolated incident.