Disney and Kids Acting and Modeling Scams

Disney auditions? Nickelodeon auditions… Or are they?

It’s been almost 10 years since I wrote my 1st post on this subject, sadly, the Disney acting audition scam is still around and taking advantage of parents coast to coast.

In the past decade, it really has not changed all that much.  The Disney kids audition scams are still active all over the US.  Parents need to take any offer with a good amount of skepticism and always do their due diligence.

The red flags are still the same:

Solicitation: Scammers employ sales people who have no clue about kids casting, yet, the sales teams are pros at targeting people and sweet talking them.

They do this at shopping malls, grocery stores, parks, and any other place that a parent may take their child.  These people approach you pretending to be a talent scout who is looking for the next big Disney or Nickelodeon star.  Guess what? Your kid fits the bill.

They do this in front of your kids knowing that a parent will give in to the child’s new found dreams.  Every kid wants to be a Disney star and saying NO in front of your kids is not always easy.  They sign you up and many parents will go since they tell you the event is free.  Parents believe… “what can it hurt to check it out?” – A lot.

These events are setup to be hard sales pitches aimed at the kids.  They involve the kids getting dressed up, practicing lines and generally getting ready for this “opportunity” – making sure the kids are on board and parents have watched the excitement. They involve exploiting a time commitment.  Keeping people somewhere and waiting for a long time makes them feel like it’s a very important event.  Once the waiting, sales pitch, random Disney star, etc., has had their due time, they call people in to meet with the “casting adviser,” “Casting manager,” “talent representative,” or whatever meaningless title they come up with that is NOT “casting director.”  They will compliment you and your child.  Tell you how cute the kid is.  Play on your kids emotions by having the child play some role, recite some lines, model, etc.  They will then tell you your child may be one of the “special” kids they just love and will call you late, tonight for their final decision…. because they are leaving town by morning.

At 11 PM the call comes.  Your child is in! Come on down before they leave in the AM to do the paperwork.  They expect you to tell your excited kid and come on down at 8AM. Now, at 8AM, they tell you they are flying off in 20 mins and need a decision and contract signed.  Oh wait, they also need you to put that kid into their acting classes which are gonna cost $4000.  They are leaving… NOW! You need to do this or forever lose the chance.

Most can see the scam above.  But when put into their timeline, even the most shrewd parents, may fall for it.  They remove any chance of you talking it over with anyone.  They remove the ability to research anything. They put parents on the spot to do this now, with the kid right there knowing the kid will be in tears if the parent says no.

Truth is… there is no plane they are getting on.  There is no Disney audition.  There is nothing other than a scammy salesperson (who has zero to do with Hollywood) and the 40% commission they need from your cash.

Don’t fall for it!

Disney has been known to do talent searches now and then.  They used to do Disney open auditions every year, once a year, and those had no fee. Not sure if Disney still does their annual talent searches anymore.

acting and modeling scam explained

Online Talent Scouts AKA Telemarketers: Just like the above, these guys do it over the phone.

They get your phone number and information from various lead generating services.  They put ads out on Craigslist.  They advertise on the radio.  They advertise on social media sites.  They pretend to be casting for Disney or whatever and ask for a email and phone number.  Later, they call with some line about being selected for some role.

Modeling: Another variation on the sales team that targets kids / teens at the mall.

These guys hang out where they know the teens will be and sign them up.  The teens come home and talk the parent into going to this.  Many of these scams are nothing more than shady photo mills trying to sell over priced photos.  They may sign people up for a “free” photo shoot or “test” shoot.  Those that come to the photo shoot realize that posing is free, however, if you actually want the pictures you just spent hours waiting for, there is a price.

These have been around forever. They know that if they get you to try on costumes, wigs, pose with props and compliment how amazing you look, you will ultimately end up buying the 3rd rate photos.

Modeling Scams are all over the place. From photo mills to modeling conventions, they have the malls covered (until the mall tosses them out.)

Many of these modeling scams troll the malls and online sites where teen girls may be, always pitching the idea of stardom. There are many modeling conventions that travel the country, city to city.  They pitch their showcases where for a price (a large one), girls may show off their best walk down a runway and meet with agents looking for “new faces.” – They sell packages for the entire family to come as well. Problem is that the chances of being discovered that way are slim. The agents there are being paid and no one cares.  Most of the agents that attend are actually prohibited by law from “casting” anyone. Any so-called “agents” are receiving a free vacation in exchange for their 2 hours and are not looking for any models.

The process is considered scammy and most legit agents stay away from such things.  That does not stop it.  These companies get away with borderline fraud.  They will pay a janitor from a modeling agency to go, in order to say “so and so works for so and so.” – Actual job title, who cares.  They are known for using ex-employees, Disney stars from a decade past, the sister of, etc. They realize no one reads the small print and no one questions titles such as “Jane Doe, previously(tiny print) with whatever agency (giant print.)

To add insult to injury, many of these so called showcases and conventions actually rent out the convention rooms at Disney resorts.  Don’t let that fool you.  Disney runs hotels and anyone can rent any space there.  They do it to sell the idea that they are somehow connected but the Disney Company has come out many times stating that these conventions have nothing to do with them.

Straight fraud:  The Nigerian 419 scams are still in play.

Those are the pre-paid acting scams where you apply to a job and someone sends you a check sight unseen. That never happens in real life.  No one pays someone they do not know, ever.  These guys run casting calls and auditions, tell you that you are perfect! Send you a check for thousands. Ask you to cash it, then forward money to the stylist, crew, makeup guy, whatever.  It is 100% fake. The checks are fake and once cashed, your bank figures it out and holds you on the hook.

This one is still going strong.  It is the same as the “you won the lottery,” “rich uncle left you cash,” etc.

The point:

If it sounds too good to be true… it is!

Disney does not discover people at a mall.

No one sends people they have never met money.

Modeling scouts are not trolling the malls.

Casting directors do not spend their days looking at social media profiles.

Always take a step back and do your research.  If there is an opportunity that is legit, they will not mind you looking into them and taking your time.