One of the most common questions newcomer actors ask those who’ve been doing this for years is: “What do you wish someone have told you before you started?” And there are many answers to this widely acclaimed question that has to be taken into account, but one of the more important ones is: “I wish someone would’ve warned me about all those scam artists out there.“
Scam artists, con artists, people with confidence tricks, liars — use whatever term you’d like (there’s even an acting dictionary available) — but they are all out there, waiting. The entertainment industry is unforgiving to actors and only those who can manage to make smart choices will survive long enough to break into the business.
We have already broken down how much acting costs in London and Los Angeles; spoiler — it isn’t cheap. And loosing even more money to scam artists that starving actors have earned with honest, hard work is really disappointing.
Having the map of all (or at least some) acting scams and types of scam artists that are out there that helps actors to know when they must back off, stay away or go around without paying a dime, will prove to be a valuable item in the show business. Let’s see what kind of acting scams are there, waiting for poor artists behind almost every corner of the city.
8 Types of Scam Artists Actors Should Beware
“Come in tomorrow, we will sign you.”
One thing majority (hell, probably all!) working actors can confirm is that such a phrase will never, ever leave an acting agent’s mouth. Never. Any talent agent who’s at least remotely interested in you will give you the meeting, at most. Because learning about your attitude, your credits, what kind of personality do you have and anything else is part of the deal.
No good agent will sign you on the spot; scam artists will. The following things you hear once you come in are recommendations for their photographer, their workshops, their casting directors and their projects. We already had a mailbox letter, talking about agents asking for money. Stay away from these people — they do not deserve your attention.
“Join the seminar and become a working actor!”
No. Don’t join a seminar. Any seminar. Nor a workshop, class, group or anything else where they openly ask for money in return for information you can easily find in books, articles, free acting handbooks and websites like the one you’re on now.
All these workshops are run by scam artists that promise their actors the world: get their headshots in front of acting agents or teach them how to behave in the meeting, etc. Forget them, you don’t need this. All you need is a little common sense while your money should be spent on food and acting classes instead. Avoid at all costs!
“I’m the only one who knows what you need in a headshot.”
There are plenty of photographers out there, starving and struggling in the big city just like actors are. Some of them are very good, some are average and others a pretty damn bad. And the “pretty damn bad” photographers, based on how little business they get, usually take on another occupation of this business — acting scams.
Never trust a photographer who will claim to know for certain what is best for you. When you go in to get your headshots done, you speak and discuss ideas and feelings of the end product with the artist. Some of them will even tell you that they can’t do what you need, and that’s fine — that’s honest. Others, though, will go through anything to release you from your hard earned money.
“Did you ever consider acting?”
Oh, yes, the famous dream of the regular folk (Pamela Anderson-like). Someone approaching them in a public place, admiring their looks and charisma, inviting in the business and promising all the stars in the sky.
For anybody who’s been in the entertainment industry for at least 6-12 months, such approach might already seem suspicious, smelling fresh of scam artists. And these people couldn’t be more right: no matter how many stories you hear, this never happens, not even if you look like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Acting is not modeling, nobody can tell you that you can be a star.
“Come see me, I have connections.”
The phrase that is very often used by talent agents’ assistants or casting office assistants, inviting to their own workshops and seminars. Yes, that’s true, they have their own business going on the side. Why? It’s hard to tell, but probably for the money. Do they have anything to offer? No way in hell.
People doing assistant jobs in any of the agencies have no power and no connections. They can attach agency’s name to their resume, legally. But it ends there. They don’t have any connections, they don’t know people, and even if they do — nobody is going to see you, an actor, based on casting assistant’s recommendation. Fugetaboutit!
“Sign this, and I’ll manage you into a TV show!”
That’s something that is always flowing around in those personal managers’ heads who are trying to catch as much fish as they can in the pool of desperate, unrepresented actors. These scam artists pray on actors who believe that “manager” is a key role in the business, but the truth is (yes, you guessed it) — it isn’t! Not a bad manager, at least.
Only well known, good personal managers, who’ve been around for ages are worth the attention because they know people and have connections. Those without any credits, no phone numbers in their cell phone and demanding for you to sign a long term contract on the first day you have met — they are scam artists. Run away, please.
“Become a star this week!”
You’ve read these kinds of things on the Internet. They are all over the place. Either it’s “lose 15 pounds in a week!” or “get an acting agent today!” — none of them ring true; they all smell of something that scam artists have put together.
There are no shortcuts to success (at least not for 99.9% of us without the last name being Spielberg), but there are shortcuts to failure. There are also a lot more ways to fail than there are to succeed. Knowing these ways in order to stay away from them will be one of the things crossed off your “Need to Learn” checklist.
“I will teach you all the subtleties of the great acting.”
Nobody’s trying to be overly cynical around here, but — no, they won’t. Acting teachers who believe to be the “the most knowledgeable teacher” under the blue sky don’t know a first thing about great acting skills. What they definitely do know about is the profession as scam artists, because they usually have a pool of actors training in their classes, and it’s sad.
It’s sad, because the more actors fall into the trap of acting teachers pretending to know what they are doing, the more new actors will trust their colleagues’ choices and go the same road. Be skeptical about these teachers who over-advertise themselves. The names of best acting coaches in major cities spread through word of mouth, not internet ads.
Un-very-fortunately, there are a lot more types of scam artists out there, milking every single, unrepresented and desperate actor looking for a shortcut to success. Sometimes even the best of us fall into these traps, no matter how much we try to avoid them. The best thing everybody can do is make others aware of these acting scams so that they wouldn’t spread; at least not as fast as they do now.
The entertainment industry is just too huge, filled with a lot of piranhas waiting for gullible actors to fall into the river of promises. If you educate yourself, read the advice and warnings about what’s out there, you might just about cross this river, walking slowly on the very narrow log thrown across it to help you out, without falling in.