I always wanted to be a star. Jem and the Holograms was my inspiration as a kid, and I wanted to be truly outrageous. I wanted to sing my heart out. I wanted to dance all night long like Lionel Richie sings. I wanted to be everything, a star ready to shine, but like with the bear traps of Retail, I stumbled into the crevices of the star-shined scam.
I was denied from the Drama Club in high school due to a vendetta between the one, that later threw me out of her Art class, and the mischievous behavior of my older brother. I returned to the stage later for two Lip Syncs, performing Roxette’s Fading Like A Flower and Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero. In my senior year, I actually did sing at my high school’s coffee house, singing to Richard Marx’s Right Here Waiting, but I was more of an intermission act. Still, it felt good being on stage, and I wanted more.
I found the advertisement for a Talent and Modeling Agency on Long Island. It wasn’t too far from my grandfather’s house, so I walked the distance. The office was professional with headshots hanging on the walls, and I met with a woman that promised to help grant my dream. All I needed were headshots, and she gave me a package deal. The cost was high, but she assured me that it was well worth it. I wasn’t working at that time because I was supposed to be more focused on my studies, but the money I gathered was put toward that package deal. And I spoke to my aunt with high hopes about my dreams for acting coming to life.
My aunt grabbed me by the hand and stormed into that agency. She made me wait in the waiting room as she had a sharp conversation with the same woman that I met with. I heard the word, naïve exchanged quite a few times, but I knew all about scams. I had fallen victim to a few of them before, but this seemed legit. Why was my aunt acting like I was being robbed?
My aunt stormed out of the agency, taking me back to my grandfather’s house. I was warned not to return there. The money that I invested was gone, lost to what she believed was a scam. I wanted to believe different. I later received a letter from that Talent and Modeling Agency, offering the same package but for less. I wanted to do it, but I was warned that I would be sent back home upstate, if I did. So, I threw the letter away, giving up for now on my dreams of becoming a star.
In 2008, a talent scout arrived in Middletown at a local hotel. She was looking for the next big star, and auditions were being held. I took the day off from work and went to audition. I filled out the forms given and stood before the camera, giving a description of myself and what I wanted. The next day, I received a phone call that I was accepted. All I had to do was pay for the headshots, which were close to five hundred dollars. At that time, I was working two jobs, one in retail and the other as a secretary for a local real estate agency. Neither one was helping me make the bills, so I declined, a bitter pill that I had to swallow. But I couldn’t do it, denying once again my dreams to shine.
I later discovered that they too were a scam. This agency held auditions for those interested in becoming a star, and then they charged them. They charged them for the headshots and their services. Their false promises of becoming an actor would never come to fruition, but they promised different. And my debt saved me from falling into another crevice of a star-shined scam.
I was at the mall yesterday, carrying around my old cell phone. For some reason, I decided to grab that instead of the new one, and I found a voice mail message waiting. On Friday at 2:30pm, another Talent and Modeling Agency called about an open audition this weekend, and they were asking for me to come and audition. I don’t know how they got that number, but I was very interested. I was thrilled that they were open on a Saturday, and the audition would be held today, Sunday. I jotted down the necessary information with a pen borrowed from my father and on a receipt pressed against a store countertop. I hurried my family out of the mall because I needed to go home to send a picture of myself to the local drug store to print out. It was the only thing asked of me, and my excitement grew. But as I sat before the computer, anxious for the next day, I stared at the screen and opened my web browser. Against my high hopes, I googled them, and the word, SCAM into view. I read the complaints posted, despite one saying that those complaints were frauds themselves, but then I found that this agency offered services too high in cost. I just completed two levels of Acting here in Goshen, NY for much less and with a legitimate actor, who has continued to help train me for the goals that I am planning, acting and writing. This agency did not promise to help me achieve my goals, and I wasn’t going to allow myself to fall into another crevice, losing money and losing dreams.
I almost didn’t do the Acting in Goshen. I feared that was another scam, but the workshop was free. My baby brother begged me to go, so I finally gave in. I went with no hope, no expectations, and I was proven wrong. It was a lucky thing that I did go because a new door of opportunities opened before me. The problem is that you don’t know. Yes, I had to pay for the Acting classes, and they weren’t cheap. But they were worth it, and you get so much more with it. But it was a risk, a chance that I was willing to take, but when you want to be a star, you have to take risks. But you also have to beware the star-shined scam. Sometimes, you can’t tell the difference, and head shots are not cheap. But maybe the best thing to do is to research who you are doing business with and then try to make a decision based on the facts given, but if intuition tells you that this is not a scam, then maybe also heed that voice that we often like to ignore. Either way, we live, and we learn. And we still hope to become a rising star.