Getting into the world of modelling can be a daunting prospect, especially these days. Although there is more information than ever available at our fingertips, some people still fall prey to scams. Sold a bill of lies—especially the one that modelling is an “easy” way to make money—people get so swept up in the idea of this glamorous profession that they neglect to do their due diligence.

Booking Fee vs. Upfront Expense

Reputable modelling agents make money when their models book work, and their standard take is between 10 and 20 percent of the fee for any given job. If an agency is requesting money upfront, it could be a sign that they are not actively soliciting casting agents on behalf of clients. Some scams simply collect a check from clients and never assist with bookings and castings, which is illegal in many places.

It is also illegal to charge money for auditions, which is why the Krekorian Act was enacted in Los Angeles. Because some businesses still manage to skirt around the perimeters of laws or operate in the shadows, it is crucial to investigate the modelling agency that has expressed interest in you. Legitimate agencies such as Wilhelmina, Ford and NEXT Models will sometimes hold open calls, but the interview happens very quickly. You will not be asked to fill out long forms unless the agency decides to sign you, and you most certainly will not be asked to open your wallet.

With many major modelling agencies, there aren’t fees because they take in profits from all their talents’ bookings. That being said though, some smaller agencies and sectors of the industry do ask for an advance fee, making it important for you to do your research to ensure it’s a reliable transaction. Like all investments, if you decide to adopt this model and invest in your career, you want to ensure that it will payoff long term.

Why the Fee?

As explained on our company website, “Commercial and catalogue agencies are unable to survive in the cutthroat industry without an upfront fee. These kinds of establishments call themselves a model/casting agency or model/promotions/extras. With this title, they are working legally by asking for an upfront fee.” That being said, many scam artists operate under the guise of being a smaller agency dependant on initial fees.

A practice becoming increasingly common is a clause requiring a return of initial expenses accrued by the agency upon generating earnings. As described here it typically involves smaller markets or agencies. “Small market agencies are usually local without an affiliation with a major agency and the work they get for you will likely be limited to your hometown. Since the potential for work in one city is small, these agencies will seek to recoup some or all of their initial expenses in signing a model.”

Be Wary of Fake Representatives on Social Media

In the digital age, social media is now seen as a breakthrough opportunity for young models to get their face out there and get noticed. Although some models have been scouted online, maintain a healthy dose of skepticism whenever someone contacts you about a gig online. Although the “gig” they are offering may be real, it may also be something that you are not comfortable with. Although it can be difficult to restrain yourself when just starting your career, you absolutely must take every message with a grain of salt. Think about your brand and the type of jobs you are interested in. Always remember that staying safe and keeping your wallet closed is the priority.