Questionable company behind child-actor 'auditions'
Family feels deceived by recent promotion
It's the stuff little girl's dreams are made of — the chance to audition to appear with some of your favourite celebrities. But that dream has turned sour for some children who attended an event at a Halifax hotel last weekend.
They went hoping for a chance to meet the likes of Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, but ended up getting a pitch for expensive acting classes instead.
Loréal Dancouse, 10, became interested after she heard an advertisement on a local radio station.
"Check it out! If you want to be on the Disney Channel, or on one of your fave TV shows with Selena Gomez or Justin Bieber, be one of the first 200 to call right now and the next kids' superstar could be you," the commercial read.
Alain Dancouse, Loréal's father, called a 1-800 number and got his daughter an audition. He says, it seemed too easy.
Loréal was overjoyed.
"I was crying with joy and I was excited, I kept on jumping," said Dancouse, who has previous film experience.
That ad aired on C-100 and other Halifax radio stations.
Hundreds of children, ranging in age from six to 17, went with their parents to a downtown hotel for what they thought was a shot at fame.
They were asked to read a script. Dancouse's parents became suspicious when they discovered that every child auditioning was being invited back for another round.
"Even the parents themselves were saying 'Our child is being accepted?' because of the way their child was in front of the camera, shy, or not showing the personality they were really looking for," said Alain Dancouse.
Families were given a brochure from the Virginia-based Youth Film Academy full of glossy pictures of celebrities Loréal Dancause recognized like Selena Gomez and Zac Efron.
It also listed acting classes with prices up to $5,900 and no information on where the classes would be held. Loréal's parents opted to skip the second audition. When Alain Dancouse got home he searched on the internet for information about the company and found numerous complaint.
"It's kind of deceiving … you are promoting, you are playing with children's feelings to accomplish this," said Dancouse.
"The concern is how many parents are going to get caught up in this and how many children are going to get their feelings hurt … Loréal was hurt when I told her about this, how it was a scam. Even the night before she had a hard time sleeping because she was so excited, and you could see in the room where kids were so excited and some of them probably got hurt."
The Dancouses complained to C-100, one of the radio stations that aired the ad. The radio station promised to investigate, but refused comment to CBC News. The Youth Film Academy was also unavailable for comment.
The Youth Film Academy has an 'F' rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Loréal Dancouse is not impressed.
"Once my parents told me I started to cry a little bit because it kind of made me feel like it shattered my dreams a bit, but I'm not going to give up," she said.
"It kind of upsets me that like they would take money from adults and make kids feel like they are going to be a star, but they're not."