Your model management scam

Is Your Model Management (YUMM) a scam?


Who wants to be a supermodel, or How not to get scammed.

Who wants to be a supermodel, or How not to get scammed.

Youth is the time to dream about your glamorous and successful future and fantasize about having the world at your feet. We dream about glamorous and luxurious lives, surrounded by loyal friends, and about doing glamorous jobs, such as astronauts, film stars and, in my case, a princess. And in the opinion of many of us working as a model is exactly that: a dream job that takes you to a dream world of fame and fortune. Or is it not?

Apparently, to some models this job has turned into a dreary nightmare! Many aspiring models report having been scammed by fake model agencies that had promised fields of gold and then vanished into thin air on their payday. I could not help investigating the issue.

Wouldn’t that be thrilling? I decided to pretend to be a young model for one day and infiltrate into an agency to find out all about this fascinating world.

I was determined to examine the modelling agency scam case for several reasons really. Partly, this is why I became a journalist in the first place – to investigate potential fraud and expose scam and then share the results with my audience. Jumping ahead, I am glad to say that no illegal scam has been discovered, and no damage has been caused. But I am glad I looked into it closely, and now I can report to my readers first hand. Keep reading and you’ll find out what you can do to start a modelling career from scratch.

Deep down I was curious to see for myself what chances I would have to become a model. Truth be told, we expect a female model to be freakishly tall and anorexic, and an ordinary-looking girl like me would normally not stand a chance.

Imagine my excitement when I found out that the YUMM model agency was happy to hire plus-size and curvaceous models, and I was most welcome to attend an interview! So, cheer up and rejoice! Even if you are not 6 feet tall and size 8 at the same time, you can perfectly well become a professional model, more quickly and easily than you think.

My interview was scheduled within the same week, and I came prepared! I had made a checklist of questions I was going to ask to decide if YUMM was a legitimate model agency, and I had done some research.

My research returned some concerning results. Apparently, the agency that was willing to interview me, had been reported as a scam by a few former employees! There were some alarming stories online, posted by girls whose contract rights had supposedly been violated. That was a big red flag from the start – which only made my investigation more thrilling. Should I get alarmed? What was I getting myself into?

I needn’t have worried, though. When I was there and looked closely at the environment and the staff, YUMM seemed perfectly legit. My interview was done in the friendliest and the most relaxed manner possible, and the manager answered all of my questions in every detail. However, my impression was that this was a strictly professional and highly competitive environment. So much for all the stereotypes!

YUMM model agency has been in this business under the same name for a long time now and must have seen many aspiring newbies like me. I had previously checked out their portfolio and had been quite impressed by the array of big names on it. GQ Magazine and HUF Magazine, London Fashion Week, Figleaves, ASOS Marketplace, ABC Fashion Magazine, Toni & Guy, Little Mix and David Guetta, all of them apparently have used YUMM’s services at some point. My eyes gleamed with delight as I was reading this, even though I was not really going to get the job – I still could dream about it.

During the interview, I was told that the agency would make every effort to help me set off, but would not nanny me around, and they would expect dedication on my part. I was offered two free model shoots for my starter portfolio, which sounded generous. Besides, I was told that I could get free copies of all my photos from future shoots, all nicely airbrushed and retouched. I was free to use them to expand my portfolio or my social media, which I thought was very useful. They were also willing to pay for the retouching and actually give me some proper model training for free, which was a pleasant surprise.

In return, they would expect strict work discipline from me. I was to commit to a shooting schedule and arrive on time for all shoots. Well, no surprise there, being asked to arrive at work on time – that’s not new. I am not in this business, but even I understand how much preparation there needs to be done for a proper professional shoot. Imagine all the technicians with their lights and cameras, all the stylist, all the clothes delivered. Certainly, the centre of all this attention, the model, will be expected to show up on time and be prepared.

I had been a bit confused about the money side of thing and the agency’s share, as I did not know the first thing about modelling. But apparently, the agency only takes some 20% of my earnings when I have any. So it is in their best interest to get me gigs!

Apart from the regular share, there was to be a so-called Refundable Security Deposit that I was to pay the agency and they would keep until the end of my contract. The manager assured me I was to get the deposit back at the end of my contract. I remembered this word from all the scam stories I had read, so I decided to make more questions, and the manager seemed eager to explain. It sounded a bit like renting a flat, really. If I fulfil my contract obligations – I get my deposit back. If I fail, the agency gets to keep it as compensation for any inconvenience caused by my ineptitude.

That sounded a bit unusual, so I asked for more details. The manager explained that YUMM as an intermediary was responsible for the possible damage to the customer. Remember all the preparation for the shoot? It costs time and money to arrange everything. If a model lets the customer down, the angry customer goes to the agency for reimbursement. So, honestly, the amount of this refundable deposit seemed fairly small compared to the amount of money the agency might lose if I don’t show up to a gig. I thought that was quite fair.

My most important question was still to be asked. What I wanted to know most was, if I could be guaranteed a certain amount of work and a decent regular income. Sadly, they said it was impossible. According to the manager, no legit business in this industry can guarantee regular work to models. The agency could put me forward to the customer, but the customer says the final word.

I could make my modelling life easier by offering generous availability hours and generally by being a nice, approachable and reliable person. The agency is more than happy to offer me gigs, it is in everybody’s best interest. A model decides on her own availability, on how far she wishes to travel for a gig. The more flexible a model is, the more work a model gets.

At the same time, YUMM expects me to make my own effort finding gigs. The agency has a job board where they post a lot of gigs, and it’s down to me to show my interest and apply. The agency was not going to be my nanny, that’s for sure! But the same is true about all other jobs, isn’t it? Arrive on time, commit, be professional and proactive. And modelling is a job, too.  

When the interview was over, I expressed my gratitude to the manager and told her I needed to think about it. But to be frank, if I were looking for a modelling job in earnest – I would definitely consider YUMM and their offer. My general impression was that they are a serious and reputable establishment, looking for eager professionals who take pride in what they do. Despite the gloss and glitter that come with the territory, there is a lot of underlying hard work and dedication.

Indeed there have been stories about scams among modelling agencies, but I can see it all in a different light now. They have probably been written by irresponsible models that did not abide by the rules, were too lazy to search for gigs, and then felt disappointed with the agency. This is all about managing expectations.

My conclusion is that YUMM was a completely legit business, offering reasonably strict working conditions. They act as a responsible intermediary and expect the best conduct from their models, offering a nice service package in return. As long as models work according to the rules, they have all their rights protected, photos delivered and deposits returned.

The bottom line is, if you are not ready to work hard, be disciplined and proactive, or cannot afford the agency’s deposit – to not apply. For all of you out there, aspiring model stars, I can recommend modelling and even YUMM as an agency. It is a job for those who are passionate about the industry. If you enjoy being photographed and having all eyes on you, by all means, try it. You could make some good money, learn new skills and have fun doing so! I almost wish I did!