Avoiding Phony Agents

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How can I avoid phony agents?

Avoiding Phony Agents

With so many dreamy-eyed hopefuls trying to break into the acting business, scams abound. Swindlers seduce aspiring actors with promises of representation and stardom and wheedle fees out of them through flattery, intimidation, and phony job offers.

Remember, an agent only takes his fee (about 10 percent) after he's procured work for you — never before. A legitimate agent will never ask you for an agency fee, a processing fee, a resume filing fee, or any other fee up front.

It's perfectly acceptable for an acting agent to ask you to have new headshots made or suggest you take an acting class. It's even okay for him to recommend a handful of photographers and teachers. But if he tries to make you work with a particular photographer or acting teacher, it could be a rip-off. Walk away. Same thing goes if he promises you work and stardom or if he tells you he usually charges a fee, but he's making an exception in your case. Most importantly, if you show up for a photo shoot or audition and feel uncomfortable in any way, don't walk — run! Trust your instincts and get out of there. Your safety is more important than your career.

If you've been scammed or abused by phony agents, contact your Attorney General's office or the Better Business Bureau. Then hit the online acting forums and warn your fellow actors! The only way to stop these criminals is by exposing them for what they are.

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