22 March 2010

Austin: Wilhelmina Brown

Looks like Austin will step things up in the modeling agency department when Wilhelmina Brown officially opens its doors this Thursday, March 25. The new agency is an affiliate partnership between Austin agent Justin Brown and the highly-regarded NYC-based Wilhelmina (yes, it's the same one that reps hotshots like sisters Alexandra and Theodora Richardson). Visit their website for booking and open call information.


  1. I see a ripoff report has already been filed. This agency is not unique because it also does talent and acting.

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  3. most rip off reports filed against legitimate agencies are from those that should try a different field. If you don't have thick skin this field is not for you.

  4. Why don't we call this agency "semi" legitimate? This agency leads hopeful actors or models on by telling them they have "potential" but cannot be "placed" until the hopeful purchases an expensive block of acting and/or modeling lessons from the agency. Ok, so they "legitimately" place a handful of people in some local shows. Mostly they sell expensive lessons to people who don't have a snowball's chance ... of becoming a model or actor by leading them on with promises of placement after the lessons. Here's how they work:

    The company has a website that allows hopeful actors or models to submit photos. Hopefuls submit the photos, then the company contact them, says the agency is interested in the photos, and invites the hopeful to an open audition.

    The audition begins with a room full of hopefuls and many parents. The hopefuls are all shapes and sizes. Many of them clearly do not have any real hope of really becoming actors or models. The "agent" (Justin Brown) tells everyone in the room that the agency will evaluate everyone's potential "honestly" and will relay this information to each candidate "honestly."

    After a short discussion about modeling and acting (and some truly good advice about hard work and being responsible for your own career), each hopeful is called into a room where they complete a cold read and have their picture taken. Then they are sent home with instructions to call back at a certain date and time where they will be told "honestly" about their acting or modeling potential.

    The hopeful calls when instructed and is told how wonderful they are, how much potential they have, then invited in for a "one-on-one" so the agency can discuss placing them. The hopeful goes in for the one-on-one visit where they are told again that they are wonderful and have much potential, but the agency won't consider placing them until they purchase and complete a package of modeling or acting lessons ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 to start.

    My guess is that every single hopeful is told the same thing and that no one is "honestly" told they don't have potential. The whole point of the process is to make the hopefuls feel unique and special so they will purchase the lessons. After all, they got called back for a one-on-one! It's the same gimmick used by Barbizon, only this company tries to reel the hopeful in a little more carefully than Barbizon does. The salespeople use flattery and slowly play on hopefuls' dreams in order to sell them the lessons. By the way, lessons obtained elsewhere (including the University of Texas) are a no go - the agency won't sign / place you unless you take THEIR lessons.

    As I was waiting for my daughter, I heard two young teenage girls telling their father how they could not "graduate" until they purchased just one more class. I heard the father exasperatedly ask, "Is THIS the last one?"

    The next step in the process is expensive, must have, pictures, pictures, pictures. (Something will be wrong with the pictures the hopeful already has.) But only by their photograph, of course.

    I checked out the agency's "acclaimed" acting and modeling teachers on IMDB and elsewhere. Most had brief acting or modeling careers. The acting teachers had bit parts or parts as extras in movies and TV, but no roles of any real significance.

    The agency never attempts to hide the fact that they are a school. It's posted on their bulletin board and in the brochure they hand to hopefuls after the cold read. The rip off is the method that this agency uses to manipulate hopefuls through flattery and promises of placement in order to sell them lessons. Many of these hopefuls obviously don't have a chance of really becoming actors or models even after the expensive lessons. "Semi-legitimate" is the best description. The buyer should definitely beware.

  5. I guess I got lucky. WB sent me on a paying job two weeks after I signed And before I spent funds on "approved" photos. So far after several months I am still showing a profit from the experience. Luck is what you make it.