Parents flag ‘concerning’ conduct of talent agency that demands payment for child acting roles

Perth woman Hannah Moore says her nine-year-old daughter Matilda was excited when she walked into a mass audition for aspiring child actors on the weekend.

When she left, holding a piece of paper explaining it would cost at least $4,000 for Matilda to get an acting role, Ms Moore was already thinking about how to break the bad news to her daughter.

“All [Matilda] knew was that ‘Oh my God, Mum. This could be my big break. I could be famous’,” Ms Moore said.

“My nine-year-old daughter was incredibly heartbroken, so she was in tears. She couldn’t understand why we were not going to pay the money.”

The touring audition was held by Premiere, a company that produces TV shows and movies for its own streaming services and markets itself to parents of children who “dream of being a YouTuber or on Disney+?”

Company requires payment for acting roles

Concerns about the company’s approach, which requires payment for young actors who pass an audition to appear in one of Premiere’s own films, have been raised by parents and a Perth agent who runs auditions for Disney and Nickelodeon.

Consumer Protection WA said the program did not appear to be a scam, but the “conduct is concerning”.

Premiere did not respond to requests for comment.

“They’re preying on kids’ dreams, parents’ aspirations for their children,” said agent Ali Roberts, of Ali Roberts Studio in Perth.

Perth talent agent Ali Roberts says companies such as Premiere prey on children’s hopes and dreams.(Supplied: alirobertsstudio.com)

Ms Roberts said taking payment from actors or their families was not part of the normal audition process.

She said the Perth audition was not the first of its kind held in Australia.

“They’re just using industry words and descriptions to try and lure people into the buy,” said Roberts.

Ms Moore said her daughter was told she had performed well on the first day of the Perth audition, where she was invited to read a couple of lines.

She said the company representative told her Matilda should come back for a final audition the next day, but she was taken back by the information they gave her.

Fees in the thousands

If Matilda passed the final audition, a Premiere flyer said her parents would need to pay between about $4,000 and $21,000 Australian dollars to appear in Premiere’s next movie.

A fee of about $4,000 would pay for Matilda to get a “featured role” with about 10 lines in the Go Iguanas! movie, while the $21,000 fee would pay for a leading role with at least 50 lines.

Pink flyer from Premiere company outlining costs of different levels of acting roles
Hannah Moore says she was given this flyer outlining the costs for different types of acting roles.(Supplied: Hannah Moore)

Ms Moore said she and her husband decided, after discussing the flyer at home, they would not proceed.

“He looked at me went, ‘No, they pay us, we don’t pay them’,” she said.

The WA Consumer Protection Division said it had not received any complaints about Premiere but encouraged consumers to contact the department if they had paid for services.

‘Really positive experience’

One Perth woman said her experience with Premiere was “amazing.”

Amy Rumpf said her family paid for her to participate in a Premiere program after passing a Perth audition in 2016.

Ms Rumpf, who was a teenager at the time, flew to Orlando, Florida, to participate in workshops and a showcase in front of talent scouts and agents.

She said she also met Disney stars and got to practice lines with them.

“It was a really positive experience,” she said.

“Every two weeks I had a mentor call me, I would rehearse my lines with her and she would give me feedback … so I really got my money’s worth.”

But Ms Rumpf said she was disappointed the company was now taking payment for acting roles.

She said she would not have signed up if that had been the program at the time.

“Which I think sends the wrong message because that’s just showing that money can buy whatever you need, or it’s showing that kids with families who are much richer can afford to get better experiences and better opportunities.”

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