Just recently, I had a moment of synchronicity. And no, that’s not performing the same dance routine in the pool as someone else wearing a nose plug. Thankfully, The Police were around in the ‘80s to introduce me to the concept.
I have a relative who desperately wants to be famous; let’s call her Jill. Jill wants to be famous so much that she signed up for emails from several acting and modeling “talent agencies.” One agency sent a text: “...we’re searching for new faces & talent to represent in 2016. This is your chance to be discovered! This search is being held at our office… By Invitation only, call for details & to have your name added to the list…”
A quick web search reveals that this company engages in a “Bait & Switch” strategy. Essentially Jill would be invited in for an “audition,” the “agency” would tell her she needs to take some classes, and then she would be pressured sign a contract that has her spending a lot of money for these classes in order for her to then be famous. There were pages upon pages of horror stories about people getting bilked out of their money for these classes with the promise of being “discovered.”
Before Jill and I discussed this “Talent Agency” my eight-year-old son asked me what “bait & switch” means. I explained it within earshot of Jill which then gave me an intro to her “talent agency.” (That's where synchronicity kicked in!) Jill seemed genuinely crushed when I told her what I’d discovered. I asked Jill if she thought this agency was a ticket to stardom, and she evaded the question entirely, saying: “It just looked like fun.”
What this agency is selling is a fantasy that preys on the hopes and dreams of people like Jill. In other words the lottery dream. When I got started in voiceover, I wasn’t sure I would make any money, and I had no illusion that I would be the next Don LaFontaine or Mel Blanc (although I can do a number of character voices and impressions, my bread and butter is my corporate professional tone).
Granted, if Jill does want to be and actor or model, she does need training, but she doesn’t need to be sold a false promise of fame.