Avoid pitfalls on the road to fame
If you or your child dreams of being a star, you need to know how the business works before you jump in.
If you don't, it is easy to spend a lot of money without getting any closer to your dream.
A radio commercial playing in Calgary says "Come audition and you could work with Justin Bieber".
Meeting Bieber is one thing Sarah and Ashley Campa dream of. They also want to be stars themselves.
So they went to the audition at an office on 17th Avenue SW, along with two hundred other kids.
Mom Marianne Campa says they met briefly with a man who said he was a Los Angeles talent agent and felt lucky when they got called back for a second audition. That's when the "agent" predicted "big things" for her girls.
Campa says the next thing she knew she'd paid $5800 for acting classes for her girls at the John Robert Powers Academy, but what about that Bieber project from the radio ad?
Marianne Campa says, "They didn't say anything, they never mentioned him once."
Campa says she cancelled the contract within hours of signing it and was told she would get a refund within twenty one days, less the $1000 non-refundable registration fee.
"I'm a single mother and I was like, I can't afford this", says Marianne.
John Robert Powers is an acting and modeling school with franchises across North America. CTV News contacted the owner of the Calgary school to check out the legitimacy of the Bieber audition and discuss Campa's experience.
Owner Mimi Eddy said her only comment for the record is: "If anyone is dissatisfied with their experience, she will take care of it to the best of her ability."
Brian Gromoff, vice president of Alberta's actors' union, ACTRA, says aspiring performers should be wary of group auditions for unknowns.
He says, "How many of those people that have done those cattle calls or paid that money have become celebrities, I don't know of any, do you? That's not the way it's done."
Carla Brown, co-owner of Calgary talent agency Silver Screen says red flags go up whenever she hears of companies selling newcomers expensive classes.
"We can set you in the right direction for workshops, for head shots, photo shoots, all that stuff at your own level, and at your own financial level."
Julianna Kierzek was looking for summer work online and found an ad for movie extras. She met with a local agency and paid $150 to have her snapshot put into a book for directors to cast background actors. Now she wishes she'd done her research first.
"You don't know for sure if you're going to get something. Are they in fact going to try to get you jobs or are they just going to take your $4.18 a month and your $150?"
The bottom line is, don't let the stars in your eyes or sweet words in your ears blot out your common sense.
Marianne Campa says that she has spoken with the owner of Calgary's John Robert Powers School and Ms. Eddy promised her a full refund, including the $1000 non-refundable registration fee.
If you are interested in getting involved in the business called "show", checks out ACTRA's website. It has basic information about how the acting and movie business works and scams to look out for.
ACTRA doesn't endorse any particular talent agents, but the site lists the Calgary agencies ACTRA members use, so at least you know which agencies are getting professional actors and models jobs.