We got duped, sort of.
Like most parents I think that my baby girl is a star (she is though). So when I got a call from some agency called Premiere, in response to sending our contact info to them in order to audition for Disney, I was intrigued. I set it up and my daughter was excited. Looking back, Premiere never said they were Disney, they just used the name Disney in every second sentence and went on about how their actors were on the Disney channel.
Just under a month after this phone call we went to a Toronto hotel and registered outside of one the many ballrooms – there were so many ballrooms. I expected there to be hundreds of children and I was right. My daughter was given a number and a script to memorize. We were told to go inside the ballroom, for a presentation.
And so I realized what was going on. We were one of many families seated in there, I felt like we were going to be told how we could make millions by selling soap or something. I did a serious Google search of Premiere and found out my suspicions were right.
As it says in this article ‘Disney auditions and Nickelodeon auditions – how the scam works’ explains: “They lure people to these events dropping the Disney brand. After people call the number, they are given a time and place to go. They make it sound very real by telling the parents to bring photos and to dress up as if to meet real casting directors. Some of these groups go as far as booking convention rooms at Disneyland resorts or hotels just to make it look more legit and connected with Disney … hey often drop Disney star names and even pay ex Disney stars to attend these events.”
We were already there and my daughter likes memorizing lines and relishes any and every chance she can get to receive attention. I figured we would go through with it, I would get a taste of ‘hurry up and wait’ and she would get another chance to show her skills off.
The presentation was hilarious. These two dudes in suits walked in the room. One just radiated ‘Asshole’ and the other had jumped out of a hair gel ad. They looked like caricatures of salesmen. Asshole spoke into a mic set up to way too loud speakers while Hair Gel watched Asshole admiringly. We watched a lot of Disney channel clips and ads with dude being like, “Your kid could be on something like this!” After a while of YouTubing Asshole got mad at all the parents, yelling about how we need to take our children’s lives seriously and not get in the way of their dreams. He actually said we can either put in the time at this ‘audition’ or go home, eat Doritos, and get fat. THERE IS NO IN BETWEEN. He also let us know faith is very important to him, and he doesn’t care what faith we all believe in, as long as we believe in God. At this point my daughter’s jaw dropped. She and I continued passing notes to each other and I told her that these people are tricking us, she wrote back she thought so too, but would like to show off how she memorized the lines anyway.
We were one of the first families to ‘audition’ because we were seated in one of the front rows. We went into a smaller room with about ten other families. There were so many pushy people! They were taking this all very seriously. We got in and Asshole’s accent changed from Posh to average ol American. He started shouting out numbers. Kids wearing corresponding numbers would go up, say their couple of lines and then sit down. While the kids acted like professionals he made fun of them, made bad jokes, and hammed it up for the five cameras his crew were filming him with. As the aforementioned article reads, “To make it look more legit they may have the child read a few lines, pose, or do something to demonstrate their talent.”
Later a group was told to leave the room. I didn’t understand it at first because kids who were made to leave did really good jobs, while some of the kids who stayed either read off their script in a monotone or forgot their lines all together; “These evaluations are usually nothing more than the sales people evaluating the parents for financial means. They look at the clothes the parents are wearing and other factors to decide which package to try to sell.”
A rule of thumb is, auditions do not include a price tag. But since so many of us parents want to believe our kids are the next big thing in entertainment. I mean, I didn’t Google anything before? I must have known deep down and ignored the truth in lieu of a more fun lie. Because of our ignorance, willful or not, hustlers are able to make a living. I spoke with someone later about the package the ‘accepted’ children received. If a family agrees to the deal, and they have to within less than 24 hours, they are looking at paying thousands of dollars, in addition to paying to go to a Premiere Event party at a Disney resort.
It was a laughable time, but we had nothing else to do on that rainy afternoon. We spent the rest of the day reading by the water and grabbing something to eat downtown. Though this is a scam, it is a legal one. Premiere actually has a portion of their site wearing up and down they are legit and that anyone who says they are not simply misunderstood them. Which is true, they purposely confuse and play on families in order to get the big bucks. Capitalism is grand, eh?
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