Parents of Child Actors Beware: Nine9 The Unagency’s Misleading Marketing Is Here!


Looks as if Dallas is home to a new branch of an old company that targets would-be models and actors with costly (and unneeded) services while masquerading as a way to “break in” to the industry.

Like many other bogus casting sites or “talent scouts” this one is targeting kids and parents interested in acting or modelling — I suspect they are trolling the net, looking for kids who have mentioned acting.  And, like Casting Hub, this company is marketing itself as a way for beginning actors and models to “get noticed”, and doing it in a way that I personally find offensive.

Casting Hub runs ads on radio & TV programs targeted to kids and teens, and the latest company — Nine9, The Unagency (Formerly One Source Talent) — appears to be scraping email addresses from websites and fake casting notices posted on legitimate breakdown (casting) sites, and targeting child actors.  This email arrived in my grandson’s email box today. It is reproduced here EXACTLY as it was received by my soon-to-be 14-year-old.

From: Stacey Edwards
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 9:57 AM
To: Kameron Badgers
Subject: Re: Follow Up

Hello Kameron
We have received the application you submitted and we’re interested in moving onto the next step.

I wasn’t able to reach you to speak to you further about scheduling a time for you to come into our Dallas office for an evaluation and we have limited slots available this week.

I do have appointments with Lani, the Director, available this Thursday at 7:00p or Saturday at 1:00p
The initial appointment is an opportunity for us to get to know you, for you to know us, take some photos and measurements and decide if you’re a fit for our company. Please note that other talent will be present during this process.

Please email me back ASAP with the best appointment time. We look forward to meeting with you!

Stacey

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

First, the message was sent to a 14-year-old. 14-year-olds can’t sign contracts, and they can’t legally submit applications to talent agencies. So that’s the first clue that this company isn’t exactly ethical. Legitimate talent agencies work with a child actor or model’s legal guardian or parent, and so do legitimate casting directors. Any company that tries to market acting and modelling classes or “marketing services” to kids is suspect in my book.

Second, my grandson didn’t submit any kind of application to this company — not unless they posted a fake casting notice on one of the legitimate online casting sites (which is possible, I suppose). Third, he’s most certainly not in the market for a talent agency — why would he need a service like Nine9 or its predecessor One Source when he’s represented by the best agency in Texas, the amazing LMTalent?

Last, but hardly least, navigating to this spammer’s website takes you to a home page that doesn’t exactly tell you what they do. A screen shot of the page used to appear here, but in what seems to be an attempt to get me to remove critical comments about its business practices, the company sent a DMCA takedown notice alleging copyright infringement over two years after the post was originally published. So, in April 2017, all images were removed although my lawyer and I believe that using them was clearly within the “fair use” provisions of the copyright law, which allows the use of screen shots in criticism and reporting.

The old One Source Talent site focused solely on child actors & models, with lots of pretty pictures of good-looking kids, a vague promise to help people become models or actors, and links to lots of “success stories”. Notice there’s not a word about what the company does, and nothing about how much it costs.

The newer Nine9, The Unagency, site has a few more photos of adults, but it’s basically the same site, just rebranded. Go a bit further in the website (to the “About Us” page), and you’ll find that the company maintains a searchable database of talent.  In plain English, it means the company charges would-be actors and models fees to post their pictures and resumes online. It is NOT a talent agency or modelling agency. Hiring them won’t get anyone a job, as they are not in the business of placing talent. They are an information publisher who publish what are basically ads for talent.

I doubt that is how the average 14-year-old who is new to the business would understand it, however, especially not after receiving an email promising them an “appointment with a Director”. And that of course is what the company is hoping: that its spam emails will reach a child with a dream who will fall for their pitch and talk mom and dad into paying for the “incredible opportunity” the company is offering.

So, while the company’s website does tell site visitors  what they do, they also tout a service that most people don’t need. Casting directors and art directors don’t troll sites like Nine9 the Unagency to identify children for their projects. The business just doesn’t work that way. Paying a company to publish your child’s photo online is (at best) a huge risk and (at worst) an expensive scam.

I have been told that there is an initial fee of several hundred dollars to register with this company. I’ve been quoted different amounts by parents, from $199 to $500 for this fee, but do not know what the current rate is. After that, I’ve been told that there’s a monthly fee of about $20-40 per month to keep your profile active. One adult actress told me that she paid over $400 for photographs, and a parent told me that she paid Nine9’s recommended photographer $350 for headshots, plus the cost of printing black and white comp sheets (an 8X10 photo with four small images on it). That’s far above the going rate for headshots in Dallas Texas — and no actor or casting director I know uses a comp card, preferring a single high-quality 8X10 image that clearly shows what the actor looks like. The small photos I saw from the Nine9 client didn’t give a very good look at her face.

As for a monthly fee, most online “breakdown sites” that post actors profiles and headshots are free. Actor’s Access, Backstage, NowCasting, Casting Frontier, MyCastingFile, Central Casting and many others allow actors to post photos and profiles free, and charge a small fee to host videos and transmit submissions to casting opportunities.  By “small fee” I mean a cost of <$20 — usually $5-15 to host a demo reel, and <$5 for a submission. And I don’t mean $20 per month — I mean a one-time charge of less than $20, period.  Some are completely free.

Is Nine9 a Scam?

Legally, I am sure that the company’s business model does not fall under any of the laws targeting online scams. After all, if you read their contract, and pay attention to the website, they’re not misrepresenting what they sell.

Morally, I’m not so sure. Most children see an ad or an email that offers what looks to them like a chance to make their dreams come true, and never look any further. And many parents who want to help their kids succeed don’t have the information or experience to spot the difference between a company like Nine9 or One Source Talent, Actors Models & Talent for Christ, Casting Hub (and many other similar companies) and a real casting director or talent agent.

It can be a costly mistake. Some of the “model and acting” services charge thousands of dollars to participate in their “program” — including photo shoots with “house” photographers, online listings, participation in big “talent showcase events” at resorts or in New York or LA, and tons of other “marketing services”.  I’ve talked to parents who have spent upwards of $10,000 on companies like this only to discover they could have gotten more by registering with a much less costly service.

For instance, here’s my grandson’s profile on Actor’s Access, one of a number of sites that cost less than $25 a year. Of course, the most impressive online profile is the Internet Movie Database, but you only earn those when you are cast in a significant enough role that the producer of the film or TV show lists your credit there.

If you’re the parent of a child or teenager who wants to be a model or actor, take time to do your homework before your child falls prey to an email like the one my grandson just received.  Here are some links to more information on what you should — and shouldn’t — pay for when your child is starting out in the business.

  1. The Biz Parents Foundation’s “Getting Started” Guide
  2. SAG-AFTRA’s Scams in the Entertainment Industry Guide
  3. Parents of Would-Be Child Actors: Beware of Scammers
  4. What a Real Audition Opportunity Looks Like
  5. Advice From a Reluctant Stage Grandma
  6. 5 Things Parents of Would-Be Child Stars Need to Know
  7. Resources for Parents of Would-Be Child Actors

I’m sad that this company has decided to open an office in my hometown, and I hope I don’t start hearing from a lot of local parents who signed up only to discover later that they are overpaying for a service they didn’t need in the first place.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This blog post was updated and edited a year after it was originally published, to take note of the rebranding of One Source Talent as Nine9 the Unagency. An updated blog post, in which Nine9 let me know how unhappy they were with my writing about their services and apologized for marketing its services to a minor, is now online at this link.  If you are considering registering with this company, or any similar company that charges fees to be listed in a talent database, please take time to check out the industry resources listed above to make sure you aren’t paying for services you don’t need or falling prey to an industry scam. A later update, two years after the original publication date, removed screen shots in response to a DMCA takedown notice received from the company.

 

About debmcalister

I'm a Dallas-based marketing consultant and writer, who specializes in helping start-up technology companies grow. I write (books, articles, and blogs) about marketing, technology, and social media. This blog is about all of those -- and the funny ways in which they interesect with everyday life. It's also the place where I publish general articles on topics that interest me -- including commentary about the acting and film communities, since I have both a son and grandson who are performers.
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24 Responses to Parents of Child Actors Beware: Nine9 The Unagency’s Misleading Marketing Is Here!

  1. Pingback: Is Nine9 the Unagency Trying to Silence Critics? | Marketing Where Technology Intersects Life

  2. kbegonia says:

    They scheduled a phone appointment with my 12 year old daughter without my knowledge. When I called to cancel the appointment they told me I wasn’t being supportive of my daughter. Unbelievable. Like guilt is going to get me to allow them access to my child? Sickening.

  3. A says:

    Thank you for the heads up. I knew something wasn’t right today… we didn’t sign anything but was asked for hundreds of dollars….

  4. Florencia says:

    I just got a call today from Nine9 for my granddaughter. First of all they mistake my name with my granddaughter who is 3. They gave me open slots for my daughter to schedule an appointment. I was told it’s $249 for resume and photos. Told my daughter about it and she was happy. I always do my research first and I’m happy I did.You saved us a trip going to this so call company. Thanks!!

    • debmcalister says:

      Most talent agents won’t sign a child until they can read — but there are model agencies in Dallas that do sign kids at 3. Lots of work locally for kids that age, too, as both Toys R Us and JC Penny use a lot of toddlers and preschoolers in videos and catalogs.

      Get her into some classes if your daughter wants her to be a child actor — WACT (Weatherford) and Dallas Children’s Theatre both have classes for kids that age, and some of the local acting coaches will take them, too. Check out the list of resources on this blog for the parents of Dallas child actors for headshot photographers and agents as well as classes. Also, a number of photographers have year end specials going right now where you can save a lot if you book before the end of the year.

      Best of luck with your granddaughter’s dreams! Have fun, and enjoy the time with her — I have really enjoyed our young actor’s journey.

      Regards, Deb

  5. Nikki says:

    Thanks for all the information, much needed
    They are also here in Atlanta, GA as well same re-branding. SMH. .

  6. Leslie crowell-powell says:

    Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention and many others. This infirmation you provided has certainly saved me thousands of dollars and time for nothing in return.
    Thank you !
    Leslie

  7. Sandra vidales says:

    Thanks for telling me fake people

  8. Pingback: Nine9 The UnAgency Promises to Stop Marketing to Minors | Marketing Where Technology Intersects Life

  9. Molly says:

    Wondering about nine 9 agency in Dallas tx is it a scam?

    • debmcalister says:

      Hi, Molly —

      Legally, I feel sure that the Nine9 folks don’t fall under the Texas laws on scams. But I am not sure that they offer a service that anyone actually needs to buy, and their marketing seems somewhat misleading to me. I am not sure from reading their materials exactly what services people are paying for, and that always makes me suspicious. I like to know what I’m paying for — and when it comes to hiring an agent, you should never pay for anything except a commission on booked, paid work.

      If you want to become a model or actor in Dallas, there are many other companies in the area with a better reputation. Here’s the key: legitimate agencies get paid when their actors book work. Some services that call themselves agencies or talent promoters get paid whether actors/models work or not. You should never pay anyone for the opportunity to audition.

      Here’s a list of some excellent Dallas-area agencies and resources for actors: http://wp.me/p1tfAl-DZ. I hope you will talk to or visit at least one of these before deciding on representation for yourself or your child.

      Best of luck! Deb

    • A says:

      Read above: the same thing happened to me today and immediately asked for 399.00 and photos would be 395.00. We left and of course didn’t sign crap

  10. Great article – thanks so much! They reached out to me today to teach a “workshop” for them. Interesting that after 25 busy years as a Casting Director based in Dallas, this is the first time I have ever heard from them. Shared your post – thanks again.

    • debmcalister says:

      Thank you very much, Shannon! Your company has a well-earned stellar reputation, and I’m glad you agree with my post and its attempt to help parents who are new to the industry avoid costly mistakes.

      Regards, Deb

  11. Sharday says:

    Shame on them!! I just received a email from nine9. They called me and tried to get my daughter to come in I knew something was wrong frist they send the email to the wrong email which was my husband’s…..Secondly I dealt with One Source Talent before in Troy Mi and they located in the same place. Smh and when I said something about them being part of one source talent or partner with them the lady on the phone said “no” we are a different agency we do not work with them. Smh so sad but I knew it.. Thank you from your guys help.

    • debmcalister says:

      Yes, it appears they have rebranded themselves as “Nine9, the Unagency” in several markets. Same corporate officers, same IP address. Thanks for the tip on this one!

  12. Keri Garcia says:

    I received an email on behalf of my daughter today{4-7-2016}, who is 12. I researched the nine9 unagency. As I continued my search on the web I found this website. I read the posting. I am grateful for information such as this. My daughter wants to be a model, but I’ll be damned if ANYONE takes advantage of her! Thank you for the information.

    • debmcalister says:

      There are a number of legitimate agencies in Dallas that handle children, just as there are in any major city. I wish you the best of luck in identifying the right partner to help your daughter achieve her dreams!

  13. Queen Ann says:

    It is sad, also went there with a resume ,picturers, once I got called in office, they told me I had to qualify for the service if they chose me,, but I have years of experience as an actress, modeling, worked in major films that made the Grammy,, I had drove 50miles to go to audition,, while there they never looked at my resume,,,,, Hey Crook! Get out of town with the games,, tired of seeing people getting they feeling hurt in your office,,,

  14. Nikki Fritz says:

    Hi, my name is Nikki Fritz. I’m a published model with most of my work based out of California. I reside in between CA and Chicago.

    A few days ago a friend and myself were under an investigation assignment for the modeling/acting company formally known as “ONE SOURCE TALENT” they now have a new “alias” which they are currently using calling it; “NINE9 THE UNAGENCY.” They have offices based all over the United States!! It’s the EXACT same SCAM ARTISTS that “represent” ONE SOURCE TALENT! Every time individuals start to catch on, they switch names and direct office locations. If you view my Facebook and Instagram you can see videos and images taken during this investigation! You can clearly see their nervous and unprofessionalism reaction, once we notified them who we were and why we were there. If you search “Nikki Fritz” for Facebook it is open to the public or Instagram search “MODELNIKKIFRITZ.”

    Recently my friend and I have been dedicating our time and resources to aware the public and shut this company down and along with others that are scamming hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals!! Please be sure to check out his Facebook page and “Like” it to stay updated with scamming companies such as these and any other news information and footage. Search Salazar’s I-Team Investigation Journalism. He exposes the TRUTH and we investigate on issues that matter to YOU.

    It’s not only a SCAM, but a horrible thing that these individuals are doing by, “targeting CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS.” Receiving hundreds and thousands of dollars per each and everyone of these individual’s gaurdians, whom are new to this industry, not knowing any better. 😦

    PLEASE SHARE AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS AGENCY AND THEIR ALIASES THEY KEEP USING EVERY TIME THEY GET CAUGHT‼️

    LETS JOIN IN AND HELP, BY EXPOSING THEM and STOPPING THEM FROM BREAKING ANYMORE CHILDREN’S HEARTS AND DREAMS, BY GIVING THEM FALSE HOPES AND EMPTY PROMISES‼️

    ALL WHILE THE PARENTS ARE UNAWARE AND DISH OUT HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO THESE INDIVIDUALS, THAT ARE KEEPING FOR IT THEMSELVES!! 🙏🏼

    • Janaerobic Bennett says:

      Went to the evaluation yesterday with Nine9. Very rude and disrespectful staff. During my evaluation, I asked about the money, up front one time fee of $499 and the $40 per month service fee, she rushed me out the room and said goodbye. Extremely defensive and evasive. Horrible experience.

  15. amber Sims says:

    Thanks for the info, my granddaughter received the same email, we are in Chicago

  16. Thanks for posting this. I just got the same email today and made the appointment. After reading this, I will not be going. What a shame.

  17. Tom says:

    Touche. Solid arguments. Keep up the great work.

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