Industry experts warn of child modeling scams

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Ever wonder if your child has what it takes to be a model?

If someone tells you your child looks like a model it can be flattering but it could also be a scam.

Hope Sheffield is proof it can happen. She had a successful 20-year modeling career and traveled the world.

Now, her son T.J. also models and has landed several gigs and goes on auditions.

“If so, one per week but I still have to do sports and school,” said T.J.

Sheffield says it is a fun industry, but it is also plagued with scammers hoping to cash in on starry-eyed parents who believe their child has something special.

When she was young, Sheffield told News 2 her parents got ripped off. They paid a few thousand dollars for her to attend a modeling convention.

Courtesy: Hope Sheffield

“That first one, yes, a complete waste of time and money. Yes, someone should have looked at me and said, ‘You are 12. You have the height; you have the measurements and if we stay in line then when you are 15 then let’s look at it.’ Or, ‘if you hit this height at 14 then let’s do it,’ but that is not what happened. They took advantage a little bit,” Sheffield recalled.

Cherylann Stephens is the owner of AMAX Talent Agency.

She has discovered countless talent, most notable a model named Binx Walton.

Walton is considered a top model in the industry. Stephens found the Tennessee native in Ashland City when she was 11-years-old.

“I can tell from a snap shot if you have a look that is marketable. If you do, I will call you in and sit you down and we will discuss it,” explained Stephens.

She says it’s simple, take a picture of your child and send it to a reputable agency that you have researched.

“Because we are an agency only, we only generate revenue through our commissions. So nobody comes in with a check book,” said Stephens.

Cherylann Stephens (Photo: WKRN)

Stephens says parents should be concerned about anyone who asks for money up front.

“If you walk into an office, and they say we can make your child a model, you need to spend $750, $1,500 ,some of them are up to $2,500 for a portfolio package,” she explained.

She said parents should also be leery of conventions.

“Your daughter has great potential to be a model. We just need to teach her how to do runway classes, and we need to teach her how to do camera one, two and three and sometimes it’s upwards of two and $3,000,” said Stephens.

Stephens says the average model’s career ends around age 25. In Nashville, models average pay is $100 to $150 per hour.

She says top models in major markets such as New York and L.A. make $2,500 to $25,000 per day.