John Robert Powers, John Casablancas = Scams?

November 9, 2012

Today I want to blog about something that is very important to many photographers across the world, Modeling and Acting schools and agencies.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear reference to “JRP” Or John Casablancas “agency” and how a model is going to make it big. Far be it from me to say they won’t make it big, but I don’t tell them those two schools won’t be a contributing factor to their success! If you’ve spent any time doing any sort of research, then you know it takes more than a school, person or connection to become a top model, it takes drive, determination and total honesty with yourself. Sadly, these “schools” can’t teach you this. Who and what is JRP and Casablancas? Let’s find out!

John Robert Powers is a very well known (and not really for good reasons) Model and Talent School. True to MANY existing agencies even today, it was started by a middle aged former model who didn’t really amount to anything in the art world. Being he had some inside knowledge, he used that as a way to get people to come in and sign with his agency. At the start of it all, I will admit that JRP was a legitimate agency as it did employ some then and now, Hollywood powerful people, but not in a way one would think. The biggest problem JRP and John Casablancas has is they’ve franchised out. What does that mean? We’ll cover that at the end.

John Casablancas is much like the above, JRP, that it started out good, but money got in the way. John Casablancas was one half the original owner of Elite Model Agency! If you know ANYTHING about the modeling industry, you know that Elite is one of the power five agencies and being signed with them is of great prestige. Casablancas took the success of Elite and decided to branch out on his own selling his shares and started his own Talent School. Again, honorable in the begining, the problem came when he franchised out and allowed others to buy his name and run it the way they want.
“Franchised out” is a term that I’ve used several times and I promised to explain it, here I go;

Many Agencies look to expand to new areas and become more profitable. JRP, Casablancas, Whilemina, Barbizon are all agencies or schools that have farmed out their name. Because they sell their name vs their quality, this makes the agency less valuable. Most times, it involves the middle aged former model reject cutting a check for 10k or more to “buy” the name. Once they have the name, they are free to do whatever they want. This is why if you google any of the names I posted and put the word “scam” behind it, you will find TONS of interesting reading material. While I’m not saying EVERY school/agency associated with these names are scams, a quick internet search will show you that a good many of them are. I personally would NEVER suggest a model or actor to get “signed” with any of these agencies as most operate on the sliding pay scale. The sliding pay scale is; most of these will tell you they aren’t an agency, but a school. There, they will teach you the fundamentals of being a model or actress. Once you get into the doors of the agency, you are enamored with photos of some of Hollywood’s brightest stars. The agent will tell you that they got this actor jobs or helped them become who they are. What they’re NOT telling you is that the actor signed up and at the end of the 500-1,000.00 class they were grabbed and told “You did an AMAZING job in this class, I see great potential in you! I’m going to invite you to a private Advanced Students Only class for an additional 5,000.00+” Naturally, it may be a lot smother delivery than that, and it may not be as much, or I’ve heard of some people paying 10,000.00-15,000.00 (I saw a canceled check for 10k to JRP once)

While I’m not saying all these schools and agencies are bad, majority of them are. This isn’t my opinion but simple internet searches that state it. Before you pay any money or sign any year long contract, make sure you’re working with proven people. An internet search can literally save you thousands!

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