What’s the worst that could happen in a creative career that cultivates self-expansion, empathy, and in-the-moment awareness? Unfortunately, that list is a bit too long for one blog post. So we’ve culled a few of our favorite stories from local actors. Hopefully readers can learn the lessons gleaned from these less than ideal circumstances without re-experiencing the unscripted drama.
Don’t Fall For It
Actress Helen Abell knew something was up when she saw a casting agency advertising on Craig’s List. But a bit of curiosity led her down a long dark hallway in midtown Manhattan to a room full of cheap plastic chairs, popular movie posters, and “a lame ass camera on a tripod.”
From what looked like a waiting room, Abell and other duped actors were ushered one by one into a messy office to discuss their personal and professional goals with “a seriously sketchy dude.” Abell says she knew this had to be a scam as soon as she saw the guy turn on a credit card machine.
“I wanted to go back into the lobby and tell everyone not to give this guy any money,” recalls Abell. “But I think he picked up on the fact that I saw through him.” After trying to convince Abell she needed new headshots — “I didn’t,” she says, “I literally had just gotten new ones.” — and telling her he’d list her on some secret audition website for a nominal fee, he ushered her “out a back door so I wouldn’t encounter the other people waiting to talk to him.”
Abell’s advice for actors who find themselves in a similarly strange situation? Trust your instincts. If you get a funny feeling from an audition environment, don’t feel like you need to stick around. And remember: If any “casting agent” or other self-proclaimed professional asks you for money upfront, they’re probably not legit.