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Red Flags

Jessica Denomme, Associate Editor

"Me? Come on! Are you sure? You want me to be a model? Well I'm flattered but... Okay great! Where do I sign up?"

Many of you reading this piece today have probably been in this situation before. You're walking through the mall and you are approached by an individual who is positive that you are the next big thing! Sure, you've considered a career in modelling before but you're only 5'3" and you're positive that most legitimate agencies require their models to be a minimum of 5'8". Suddenly, your height no longer matters because you have finally been discovered. Someone sees in you the makings of a superstar and wants to help you develop into the biggest Canadian supermodel since Coco Rocha! The best part? It's only going to cost you: $250 in registration fees, $1,000 for classes, $250/year for a website feature and $1,500 to start your portfolio. Reasonable, right? Wrong!

The glamour and luxury of the modelling industry has been enticing young men and women to become involved in the fashion business for many years. Television shows such as Canada's Next Top Model have made this alluring world seem attainable and realistic to many young people and it is safe to say that many sneaky organizations have taken advantage of this "teenage dream." If you're reading Modelresource.ca, chances are that you're serious about a career in modelling and even more serious about protecting yourself. Good for you! It's extremely important that you research the agency with which you are contemplating signing Google is your best friend! While many of today's top models have been discovered in everyday locations (Jessica Stam was discovered in a Tim Hortons) it is important to remember that sometimes when something seems too good to be true... it is! That's not to say that you're not the next Daria Werbowy, but I urge you to pay attention to some of the key signs that the agency which approached you does not have your best interests in mind.

Red Flag #1: Advertisements in the Classifieds and on Kijiji
The majority of legitimate agencies do not advertise their services in the classified sections of the newspaper or on free cyber sites. Additionally, be very wary of agencies that do not list a physical address or only offer a P.O Box number. For individuals acting as model managers, it isn't uncommon for them to operate from their homes, but full service agencies should have physical office space. NOTE: Modelresource's own list of Canadian modelling agencies omits any we know to be fraudulent, but that doesn't mean those that are listed have been verified to be legitimate.

Red Flag #2: "You'll be a Star for the Low Price of $2500!"
While there are several investments you will be expected to make when you begin your career as a model including prints, wardrobe and travel costs to castings, it is important that you understand what is considered to be an agency taking advantage of its talent. Be wary of any costs that stipulate you will be giving directly to the agency such as administrative costs or fees for taking your snapshots. Don't be taken advantage of financially!

Red Flag #3: "You will be doing Paris Fashion Week this year. I promise!"
No agent or agency can without doubt promise you work, unless they are the individuals who are directly casting a job. If an agency is promising you high end work (especially if you are new to the industry) be cautious of their legitimacy.

Red Flag #4: Chances are Brad Pitt is NOT a Graduate of a Small Modelling School in No Where, USA
If an agency is claiming that a top model or celebrity is a graduate of one of their modelling or talent programs, it may be true! Canada's Next Top Model: Season 2 Winner, Rebecca Hardy, is a graduate of Cameo Models in Waterloo, Ontario. However, if upon entering an agency you are greeted with black and white images of the world's most famous models and celebrities there may be something they are trying to hide. Many agencies showcase work done by their talent; however this work should be recent and official.

Red Flag #5: Ultimatums are NOT Part of the Signing Process
If at any time a scout or an agency gives you an ultimatum about joining their roster or agency RUN! Many "Scouts" for scam agencies have a quota to reach ultimately they must sign up a certain number of participants over a certain number of days. Often, these agencies can be found in malls and require you to sign up on the spot for a fee. This fee does not include registration for a model search or contribute to any of your future prints; this is considered a membership or informational fee. If you have visited an agency and they require you to sign their contract before leaving their offices, chances are they have something to hide.

You're now equipped with some extremely useful knowledge that will help you differentiate between legitimate and scam agencies. If you are questioning the legitimacy of a potential agency, feel free to request the contact information of models or parents who have had their children signed on their roster, and be sure to follow up with those references.

Yours in fashion,
Jessica Denomme

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