I was at Target a few days ago, and I had a woman named Rachel approach me. She complimented me on how cute Z is. She asked if I'd ever seen High School Musical. Well, uh, not exactly. She then goes on to tell me she's a talent scout, and thinks that Z would be a great model because he's so cute. She gives me a card, and asks permission to call and set up an appointment with her boss.
They call yesterday, and ask if I can come in today. I had nothing better to do, so why not? I was pretty sure this was all a scam, but then the appointment setter tells me to bring in several snapshots of Z so they can see how he photographs. Well, this isn't what I was expecting, so I start to wonder if maybe it is legit. But, I was 90% convinced it was a scam. I had plans to go to dinner with my mom afterwards, and I needed a kick in the pants to get Z's two year old portraits done, so I decide to go along with it.
I realize that my darling husband took the wrong camera charger with him on his trip out of town, so my beloved rebel has dead batteries, and no way to charge them. Husband also has my second choice in camera. So, I dig my ancient digital camera out of storage, charge it up, and take Z's pictures today.
We get to the agency, and the kids are understandably fidgety after being in the car for the past 90 minutes. I am informed that it's an "audition". I try to keep a straight face at the idea of a barely 2 year old "auditioning". We called back fairly quickly. The man is acting friendly and chatty towards Z, but it feels fake to me. While he talks to Z, he strikes me as the kind of person who does not like children.
We get back to his office, and Z and M are playing on the floor, S is sitting on a seat with a small ball, and K is sitting quietly. Walter asks what I know about "the business", and why I chose to come in. I told him that I knew nothing, and that if Z had some "thing" that casting directors were looking for, it'd be nice to get his college paid for. He said that was definitely possible.
He then starts writing out on paper. After scratching figures on the paper for a couple minutes, he says that to get started, I have to have a photo portfolio of Z. Tru Talent will create said portfolio, and create a resume and web page for Z. I can pay $1200 for this, or make monthly payments of $128. Then, I can pay $80 a year to update the photos. I then have access to their bulletin boards of upcoming auditions, and if I see one I want, I contact them, and they give me time and location. I asked them if I could get the photography done elsewhere. He said that I would need to have their photographers do the photo shoot so they'd know they were getting the shots they want. He then gets really mad at M and Z for being too loud.
Let step back for a second and clarify. I know my children are not perfect. I'll be the first to say that yes, they can be rowdy occasionally. While we were there, they had some energy, but honestly, I was impressed they were as quiet and still as they were after sitting still in a car for 90 minutes. While M & Z were playing, they were playing quietly. they were talking, but it was almost whispers. M had done something that made Z laugh, and when he laughs, it's a little loud. It is not anything obnoxious or overly loud. While I know my kids aren't perfect, they generally behave pretty well in public, and if they do get a little wild, I am quick to discipline them.
I'll tell you what though. NOBODY disciplines my children in front of me. Particularly not a stranger who is trying to bilk me out of thousands of dollars. When he got after them for being too loud (which I didn't think they were, and I promise I'm not one of those crazy ladies who lets their kids run out of control), he lost any chance of getting a penny out of me. In fact, even if they had offered to do all of that stuff for free, I'm not sure I would've worked with them anyway, given his annoyance roiling off of him, and his obvious inexperience and impatience with children.
Although he was initially friendly with the kids, it seemed very forced. He didn't even glance at Z, didn't make eye contact with any of the kids, and didn't seem to even listen to their answers when he asked a couple questions as we walked back to his office. Didn't ask me a single question about Z other than age. Didn't ask if I'd brought the assigned photos in. So, obviously, he didn't see the photographs I had taken.
So, after I calmed down for a second and managed to quell the urge to throw something at him for getting after my children, I told him that I'd be happy to have that money come out of our first commission check, but I wasn't putting down a penny beforehand (which I guess was kind of a lie, as I'd paid $.43 to print out some pictures for them). At that point, he said that "I don't feel we had anything more to talk about."
He handed me a card, and we were escorted out.
My impression was the place didn't see to be very high budget. It felt kind of low class and sleazy. I'm not a huge decorating person, but it felt very cheap to me. The furniture struck me as being from one of the cheap furniture warehouse type places. Ugly carpet, no touches to make the place feel expensive and successful. I didn't feel at all confident in their ability to make my child a star if they couldn't even make an office appear sophisticated and glamorous.
Before going in I was pretty sure it was a scam. I had thought that the "agent" would've cozied up to me and told me about how brilliant, beautiful and obviously talented my child(ren) was, and how they really wanted to sign them. Not just Z, but all four! I mean, really, look at them! I was expecting the agent to be a salesperson who would charm me. Instead, he basically ignored all of them, except to get mad at them for having a quiet conversation.
So, you wanna see the pictures I brought that he didn't even bother to ask about? Yeah?
Ok, here is my beautiful baby boy.