Hannah Moore, a woman from Perth, said her nine-year-old daughter Matilda was excited when she took part in a mass audition for aspiring child actors over the weekend.
- Premiere holds mass auditions for child actors, but demands payments of thousands of dollars to get a child cast in a role
- Consumer Protection WA says firm’s conduct ‘concerning’ but not a scam
- Premiere did not respond to requests for comment.
When she left, holding a piece of paper explaining that it would cost Matilda at least $4,000 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, mom. 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 weren’t going to pay the money.”
The touring audition was hosted by Premiere, a company that produces TV shows and movies for its own streaming services and markets itself to parents of kids who “dream of being a YouTuber or on Disney+? “
The company requires payment for acting roles
Parents and an agent in Perth who organizes auditions for Disney and Nickelodeon have raised concerns about the company’s approach, which demands payment for young actors who pass an audition to appear in one of Premiere’s own films .
Consumer Protection WA said the scheme did not appear to be a scam, but “the driving is concerning”.
Premiere did not respond to requests for comment.
“They prey on children’s dreams, parents’ aspirations for their children,” said agent Ali Roberts, of Ali Roberts studio in Perth.
Ms Roberts said paying 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 to lure people into buying,” Roberts said.
Ms Moore said her daughter was told she had performed well on the first day of the Perth audition, where she was asked to read a few lines.
She said the company rep told her that Matilda would have to come back for a final audition the next day, but she was surprised by the information they gave her.
Fees in the Thousands
If Matilda passed the final audition, a flyer from Premiere said her parents would have to pay between A$4,000 and A$21,000 to appear in the next Premiere film.
A fee of around $4,000 would pay for Matilda to get a “featured role” with around 10 lines in the Go Iguanas! film, while the $21,000 fee would pay for a lead role with at least 50 lines.
Ms Moore said she and her husband decided after discussing the leaflet at home not to proceed.
“He looked at me and said, ‘No, they pay us, we don’t pay them,'” she said.
WA’s 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”
A woman from Perth said her experience with Premiere was “amazing”.
Amy Rumpf has said her family paid for her to attend a Premiere program after she auditioned in Perth in 2016.
Ms. Rumpf, who was a teenager at the time, flew to Orlando, Florida to participate in workshops and showcase in front of talent scouts and agents.
She said she also met Disney stars and was able to train with them.
“It was a really positive experience,” she said.
“Every couple of weeks a mentor would call me, I would rehearse my lines with her and she would give me feedback…so I really got what I paid for.”
But Ms Rumpf said she was disappointed the company was now accepting payment for acting roles.
She said she wouldn’t have signed up if that had been the program at the time.
“Which I think sends the wrong message because it just shows that money can buy everything you need, or it shows that kids from much wealthier families can afford to have better experiences and better opportunities.”
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