Modeling Scam Alert


The great thing about being in the modeling industry for so long is that I can usually spot a scam a mile away. But the scammers are slowly starting to learn from their mistakes. So I just wanted to tell you about a recent scam I avoided and am hoping to exploit. This particular scam has actually been around for a while but it's been some time since I've seen it, which means it must be back in season or something haha. While I can spot the signs, sadly, not all people can or will and I really want to save as many people as I can from falling prey.

As you may well know, I'm pretty easy to find on the Internet. I have profiles on a lot of online modeling community sites in order to expand my exposure as well as my networking opportunities. This has led to clients finding my photos and information and offering opportunities for me to work with them. While this works out most of the time, there are those that will try to scam me.

I recently received a message via one of my online modeling profiles from a lady claiming to work for a freelance modeling agency. One of their major clients, Men's Health Magazine, was looking for cover models for their Canadian edition and after coming across my profile, they were interested in booking me for this gig. Obviously Men's Health Magazine is a well known publication, both in print and online, so I knew that the client was legit, but I wasn't so sure about this "freelance modeling agent." The beautiful thing about online networking communities is that you are able to see who you are in contact with. I sent a message stating my interest and for them to send me more details. I wanted to see where this would lead. I then went to the person's profile on the site and found a couple of things that screamed "SCAM."

1) The person who sent me the message used a woman's name but the photo on the person's profile was an Asian male. Hmmm...

2) The basic information they filled out didn't make any sense. If it is a male, then most of the fields for female measurements would have been left blank. Instead, this person stated that their chest size was a 25 and a size E cup. So if this person is indeed a female, why put a picture of a man up there (no other pictures are on this person's profile). Hmmm...

3) Because of the site's "updates" feature, I was able to see who else this person had made contact with. It was a newly created profile so it hadn't been up for long. This person contacted 10 other models on the site, all with the exact same message/offer they sent me that day. Hmmm...

All of this led me to believe that this person was not working with Men's Health Magazine as a client and that the offer was more than likely bogus. They did email me back with a generic email saying that I got the gig and that they would choose a photographer, studio, makeup artist and hair stylist in the city that I lived in. The message also stated that I would be mailed a money order for $500, which I would take my cut from and then SEND THE REST OF THE MONEY TO A STUDIO MANAGER TO PAY THE STUDIO FEE. WTF?

Obviously, my scammer radar starts shooting off fireworks. A model's role is to be hired by the client, show up to the shoot, work, and then receive payment afterwards. Nowhere in this process is the model involved with paying fees for a shoot they were HIRED to work for, and are not supposed to deal with making arrangements with anyone about what facilities should be used. Give me a break! I was so mad when I read that message.

On top of that, the person writing these emails had very poor grammar and a weak grasp of the English language, which showed in the message. Now, I'm not just bagging on this person about their writing skills because I'm a journalist. I can tell you right now that oftentimes, poor grammar and usage in a message from a so-called "professional" in the industry is a huge red flag. Image is everything so I am highly skeptical of anyone in the industry who claims to be so-and-so and work with so-and-so, but can't even write me an email message that makes sense. Hello, there's a thing call spell check or even having someone else reread the message to make sure it makes sense. You wouldn't send an email to a huge modeling agency filled with grammatical errors and typos would you? Well, you should expect nothing less from people that want to work with you, either.

That being said, I sent a message to the editor of Men's Health Magazine, along with the correspondence between myself and this wanna-be freelance modeling agency. I told them that I believed this person was falsely claiming to be working with their publication in order to recruit unsuspecting models so that they could get money from them. I hope the editor gets back to me soon and that they will contact the proper authorities to investigate. Additionally, I tried to look up the agency's name and came up with nothing. I hardly think that someone who has Men's Health Magazine as one of their clients, should be hard to find on the Internet. Just too many red flags for me.

This is a common scam that usually begins with someone claiming to work with a huge agency, recruiting models to appear on covers of magazines and other print work. They claim they'll send you half of the money through the mail, but that you have to deduct a percentage of it and send it to one of their people in your city, who is supposed to use this money to pay for the studio fee. This is not how the modeling industry operates and if anyone wants to send you money for a shoot before even meeting you or inviting you to meet with the client or casting person, 9 times out of 10 that means it's a scam.

Please be mindful of these types of offers that seem too good to be true. I think the same person must be operating all these scams because in most of the ones I come across that use this method, it seems that it is someone who has English as their second language because the wording of the messages all have similar typos and grammatical errors.

Do your research, find names, and don't be afraid to let them know that you think they are scamming you. I will be emailing this person back to let them know that I will be politely declining their offer because I am aware of how the industry does and does not work. If I hear back from Men's Health and they confirm my hunch that they do not know this person, then I will be sure to include that in my email to them as well. It's all about being proactive but still remaining professional. I will not be cussing this person out or berating them...there is a way to get the point across without being nasty.

Final Thoughts on Miss California USA


The past weekend has been such a journey and quite an experience for me. I definitely went there to win but not getting the crown or placing in the top 15 has not discouraged me in the slightest. If anything, it's invigorated me and makes me want to enter another pageant! Well, not right away but I will be taking some time soon to research other pageants. I think it's about finding the right kind that suits your strengths so that will be my strategy for next year. Regardless of what I decide to do, you will all be in the loop every step of the way! =)

While I didn't make the top 15, I was surprised to receive a call from my pageant coach (who is away at school in Hawaii, which is why he couldn't be there), telling me that while reading over the pageant forums online, he found that I had made the list of many people's picks for the pageant. There is a whole world of pageant followers out there and they devote a lot of time into blogs, forums, websites, etc. where they all discuss the latest pageants, before, during, and after. Just like sports fans choose their top teams for playoffs, pageant fans also list their top picks from who they think will make the top 15 to who they think will take the crown. I was happily surprised to learn that on a few sites I was ranked as a serious contender and many believed that I would place in top 15 or take the crown. That kind of support from people that don't even know me is amazing.

Looking back on everything, I don't feel I could have done any better (okay, maybe a bit better in the interview portion haha) but other than that, I rocked the swimwear and evening gown competition to the best of my ability during the preliminary competition. I feel like a winner and know that I stood just as good a chance at catching the crown as anyone else. I think it would have been different if I had totally bombed the pageant, but I didn't so I pat myself on the back for a job well done!

The good thing about participating in pageants is that you don't even have to win to boost your career. Many contestants get recruited by casting and modeling agencies based on their performance and not where they placed. The front row of the pageant audience were casting people and executives from acting and modeling agencies, TV networks, and print media so the exposure I've gotten from this pageant is immense. I also managed to submit my headshot and information to representatives from Disney that visited us during one of our rehearsal days. So it was all worth it in the end for me to be there. While the crown may not be mine this time around, my memories and new friends will last longer than a one year reign as beauty queen and I am so grateful to all of you for your kind words, love, and support.

So where do I go from here? Easy, I continue on the path upwards!

Fun Pictures from 2009 Miss California USA Pageant

Here are some flicks from the competition weekend...

Me & Miss Palos Verdes, Nicole Chiu, she stayed across the hall from me:



Miss North Bay Area...yeah, I'm representing!



Getting beautiful in the dressing rooms is no easy task:



Former Miss Venezuela teaches us the right stuff:



This was pretty much what 95% of the pageant was...hurrying up to...wait around...LOL:



You try spending 4-6 hours dancing and walking in heels...you'd be a corpse, too!



A behind-the-scenes look at rehearsal. We were introducing ourselves:



Good times:



That's how we roll on the dance floor:



Behind-the-scenes at the crowning ceremony:



The non-finalists rushing to the stage for the final evening gown walk:



Her face pretty much says it all..."Help, we want to go home now and our feet hurt!!!"



Leading the pack offstage:

Miss California USA Competition Day 3: Final Show

So Day 3 finally came! It was the finals show and all of the contestants had a lot on our minds. We all realized that by this time, the top 15 had already been chosen and now all we could do was cross our fingers and hope for the best.

We started our morning super early (5am!) in order to pack our bags, and check out of our rooms. My boyfriend picked up my luggage and then I headed to breakfast with my roommate and the other girls. Afterwards, we headed to rehearsal, where all the teen and miss contestants did a full run-through of the finals show from the opening number to the mock crowning. We all learned where to stand, enter, and exit, as well as what the routine would be if we won. This was also the night were we got to introduce ourselves to the audience.

Because the show was scheduled for 3pm, we rehearsed all morning, took a break for lunch, and then immediately went to our dressing rooms, where we had to wear our swimsuits again for the final show.

I didn't make the top 15, which meant the rest of the night would be simple for me. All of the non-finalists were required to do a final walk in our swimwear, head back to our dressing rooms, change into evening gown, and do a final walk in our evening gowns. Then we all came back onstage in our evening gowns to watch the final crowing.

Because I like to practice what I preach in terms of being cordial and a good sport, I will say that while I was disappointed that I did not win or place in the top 15, I (and all the other girls) were more disappointed that someone more deserving of the crown didn't win. But that's the way pageants are sometimes and regardless of the outcome, I have built some amazing memories, and made some new best friends. I am thankful that I made it this far and hope that my participation in this pageant will open new doors for me. The first row of the audience was made up of casting agencies from all over, so I am hopeful that one or more will have seen my potential and contact me. My boyfriend was there afterwards with a big hug and kiss and that made me feel really good.

I didn't shed a tear and the only time I got teary was seeing some of the other girls crying. They were devastated. I went to one of the girls and hugged her tightly and told her that she rocked it and shouldn't feel bad. She cried that her whole family was there and they she felt she had let them down so I told her that the good thing about family is that we are always winners to them. She perked up after that and I set about making my rounds, making sure that the other girls knew they had done a great job. Then I settled down with my new friends and got phone numbers and other contact info, packed the rest of my stuff and practically flew into my boyfriend's arms!

After leaving the Riviera Resort & Spa after the finals show, we went straight to Jack in the Box, where I ordered a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger, Bacon & Cheddar Potato Wedges and a huge Lemonade...and we totally pigged out back at our hotel room! Then I got some much needed rest, and the next morning, my boyfriend and I got into our car and I said goodbye to the quaint little town of Palm Springs and was homeward bound.

It feels good to be home!!!

Pictures from the Beauty of Califorina Dinner - Miss California USA

Some pictures from Saturday night:





Miss North Bay Area & Miss USA Crystle Stewart:



The Beauty of California Dinner - Miss California USA


The great thing about the pageant is that they allowed us some time to be with our loved ones. The Beauty of California Dinner took place on Saturday night, after our interviews earlier that day. By the time the preliminary and interview portions were over, there was only the finals show on Sunday night so the competition was pretty much over. Our reward was a special dinner and a night of dancing away our stress and all those freaking hours of dancing and walking in heels!

The coolest thing next to having our family and friends there to be with us, was having the current Miss USA Krystle Stewart as our guest of honor! I got to meet her and take pictures...she is so humble, sweet, and genuine. I love how even though she is Miss USA, she still acts as if she's not a big deal. She truly cared about everyone that came to greet her and take pictures with her. Definitely worthy of the crown in my opinion.

After taking pictures with her, I went back to my table with my boyfriend, who was the only one able to make it to the pageant, and got to know the other contestants and their families that were sitting at our table. They served us salad, a huge dish of our choice (I got the chicken with steamed veggies), and then topped it off with a tiramisu dessert...yum!

When the eating was done, it was time for dancing! All the girls got up and did everything from the Electric Slide and the Cha Cha Slide to the Flow Rida Song "Get Low." Some of the contestants' mothers got lower than the girls did! LOL. I didn't get onto the dance floor till near the end because I had spent 6 hours in high heels rehearsing the opening number so my feet were killing me but eventually I did get to slow dance with my sweetie and then danced to the rest of the fast songs.

Our night ended around 10:30pm and then all of the contestants said our goodbyes and headed back to our rooms to get ready for the finals show.

Miss California USA Competition Day 2: Interviews


Day 2 was all about our interviews with the pageant judges. This is a huge section to score points in for the competition. My interview time was 10:20am so luckily I got to sleep in for a bit. I got up, did my hair and makeup, and put on my interview outfit. This time around, they changed the rules for attire. In the past it was mandatory to wear business wardrobe, but I guess this year they wanted to see more of the contestants' personalities so the attire for the interview portion was completely up to us.

I personally love wearing business clothes so I choose a happy medium: black, capri slacks, black, strappy peep-toe heels, and a maroon, sleeveless top with a chinese neckline. I kept it dressy casual. I wore my hair down and had my makeup more natural, since I wasn't required to be onstage.

I checked into the Grand Ballroom and waited my turn. Then I was escorted into one of the conference rooms of the building, where I stood in front of the panel of the six Miss judges. There had been some last minute drop outs so we weren't sure who our judges were going to be. Holly Madison from "The Girls Next Door" and Cindy Margolis (one of the current Playboy Playmates) dropped from the panel of judges (I totally wanted to meet Holly, too!). The judges I met were Kenya Moore (Miss USA 1993), David Allen (a famous celebrity nutritionist), Alec Shankman (Head of the Alternative Programming Department at Abrams Artists Agency), Michael Voorhees (a famous photographer), and one other person I did not recognize.

I greeted them warmly and they began to ask me questions, which came from the bio that all contestants had to fill out when we first applied to be in the pageant. The questions they asked me were:

1) It says you want to start your own art business. Can you tell us a bit about that?

2) How old are you?

3) What is your favorite graphic novel?

4) If you're such an artist, why do you want to be Miss California USA?

5) Are you part Filipino?

I answered with a lot of energy, smiles, and made eye contact with each of the judges. Some were smiling and interested in what I had to say, while others remained pretty quiet and had "poker faces" so I couldn't tell if they liked me or not. Pretty nerve wracking. Only 2-3 of the judges asked me questions, so it was just a conversation back and forth. I do know that I talked a bit too much, which I know cost me points. I couldn't help talking about my passion for art and wanting to be Miss California. But aside from that critique, I was warm, genuine, and commanded the room when I spoke. I wish I could have done a few things differently but I gave it my best and I can't ask for anything more than that.

After my interview was finished, I was directed to a team of photographers for a quick photoshoot, and then interviewed on-camera with a few of the other contestants. There was a large group of photographers and videographers there, putting together footage for the DVD of the pageant (which I ordered and will be waiting eagerly for in the mail!).

When that part was done with, I headed back to my room where I changed into comfortable clothes and then spent the remainder of the day with the other contestants rehearsing our open number. We also had a former Miss Venezuela there who helped us with our walks and stage presence (she said my walk and presence didn't need any work! Sweet!).

The cool thing about the DVD this year is that you can buy different versions. The one I choose shows the pageant, but has a menu so that you can go straight to the parts of the competition that I am in, and also contains a special montage of all the pictures and video footage the crew has of me, from the competition, rehearsals, candids, etc. They finally realized that people don't care about the other girls when they watch the DVD--they want to see the girl they are supporting! LOL. So I'm glad that I ordered that version. It won't be mailed out for a month and a half from now (that's a lot of footage and pictures to go through!) but when I do get it, I'll be having a DVD viewing get together at my place with my friends that want to see it. Although I've been in the spotlight for some time now, I still get embarrassed when people want to watch me hehe so it'll be gut wrenching to have my family and friends watching me compete, even though it's on DVD! Unfortunately, the event was not televised so the only way to watch it is on DVD but I'll see if I can possibly put it online.

When rehearsals were over, it was time to get ready for our Beauty of California dinner, where all of our family and friends could join us for food and dancing. That post (and pictures) are coming up next!

Photos from Day 1 - Preliminaries: Swimsuit & Evening Gown

Here are some of my favorite flicks from the first day of the preliminary competition...

SWIMWEAR:




EVENING GOWN:




Hanging out with my sweetie after preliminaries:

Miss California USA Competition Day 1: Preliminaries


Hello, my beloved readers! I had hoped to do a post each night of the pageant but it all proved to be pretty exhausting so by the time I got to my room, I just wanted to sleep! LOL. So I'll recap each day of the competition in its own post. Let's get started!

Day 1 of the Preliminary Competition took place on Friday, November 21 in Palm Springs, CA. It was our first time on stage in front of both the audience and the judges and we did swimwear and evening gown. There was no opening number or dancing so it was straight to business. The Preliminary Competition for Friday was for Swimwear and Evening Gown.

I started my morning early, grabbed some light lunch and then had my boyfriend drop me and my bags off at the Riviera Resort and Spa, where the festivities were taking palce. All the contestants checked in, picked up our sashes (which we are required to wear anytime we're out and about in the hotel), and got settled into our rooms. My roommate is a sweetheart (Jan Humphrey - Miss Northern Valley) so I'm glad that I have someone that I get along with to be with me.

First we all met in the Grand Ballroom early in the day to get organized, hear announcements, and then did a huge run through dress rehearsal with all the girls. I'm contestant #35 but the teens go before the miss contestants so there was a lot of downtime. After we gave the house mothers (our den mothers if you will) our evening gown with the shoes and accessories, we headed to our rooms after picking up our box lunches. We had one hour to get ready for the preliminary competition and we were asked to wear our swimsuit underneath the outfit that we planned to wear after the competition. So I wore dark jeans, my swimsuit heels (taupe), and a maroon top with my lime green bikini underneath. I got my makeup and hair together and then walked with my roommate to the dressing rooms, where we all got undressed, lotioned up and waited our turn to get onstage.

Now one of the most memorable things about this pageant thus far has to do with "butt spray." I don't know how many of you are well versed in the art of pageants but butt spray is like God to pageant contestants because of its ability to keep our swimsuit bottoms from riding up. We didn't know if anyone would have any on hand so we began searching for this oh-so-miraculous butt spray. One of the house mothers had a can of spray and I've never seen so many girls line up to have their butts sprayed with glue. It was my first time and I can't tell you how weird it is to have glue on your backside! LOL.

The swimsuit competition went really well! The judges took a moment to really warm up to us, but I still got out there and gave them my fierce walk and great smile (Tyra would have been so proud of me!). After our swimsuit walk, we immediately ran back to our dressing rooms and put on our evening gowns. Then we hit the stage again. And that was it! The prelims were over and after the event, we got to spend time with our friends and family, so I was able to be with my boyfriend for about an hour and then they ushered us to our rooms, where the house mothers did bed checks.

So that was Day 1! On to Day 2!

Latest Shoot: ELV Motors


Hey, all! I got some copies from one of my most recent shoots for a new innovative company called ELV Motors. In the effort to "go green," ELV Motors has come out with a collection of new scooters and electric bicycles. These aren't your ordinary scooters or bikes, either. To charge a scooter, it costs 10 cents. I believe it's about $1 a day to fully charge the scooter but get this: for each full charge, the scooter can run for 400 miles! Unfortunately, because it can only go between 20-30 mph, it is not intended for use on freeways but is great for getting around town and can be used on some highways. The electric bicycles have a built in motor and you can actually throttle the bike in order to get up steep climbs without pedaling. Pretty amazing stuff!

The shoot was on a Sunday and lasted all day. There were four other models in addition to myself and we started in the city of San Jose and then drove about 15 minutes to a town called Los Gatos and shot there for the remainder of the day. Needless to say, I learned how to ride a scooter! I feel very accomplished lol. And I spent most of the time on the electric bike, which was awesome! The shoot went well and we got some excellent pictures, which are going to be used on the company's website and promotional/marketing materials. The website is still being worked on but my photos are already on there, which is pretty sweet. If you want more info about ELV Motors and their products, you can check out: http://elvmotors.com/.

Here are some of my favorite flicks from the shoot. Enjoy!







Spotlight: Paul Fisher


I received an email on behalf of Paul Fisher, who has represented the likes of Naomi Campbell, Janice Dickinson, Monica Bellucci, Stephanie Seymour, Carre Otis, Brooke Burke, Kimora Lee Simmons, Nicky Hilton and many others. I read over his bio and what he's accomplished in his 20 years in the industry and he is taking a radical approach to the modeling industry and the role that agencies themselves play when it comes to the types of models they recruit. I thought it was a very interesting idea and felt that some of my readers could appreciate what Paul is trying to do. Check it out:

Paul is using his knowledge gained over the past 20 years in the modeling and fashion industries in order help transform how modeling agents interface with their talent. Paul is really trying to do something special for the way young women are treated in the tough world of the modeling industry… By educating many young agents to have the “right” consciousness he feels he can accomplish this goal.

A small sample of Paul’s thoughts about the modeling industry… “I think it is really hard on young women. I believe when a young girl has her physical appearance judged five times a day - 25 times a week - 100 times a month - 1200 times a year it can be very damaging for many years to a young person’s view of themselves. When one is judged about their religious or political beliefs, it can be handled... But to have your looks put underneath a microscope 24 hours a day is something that can last a life time”… Paul doesn’t suggest the modeling industry to the thousands of girls that ask of him for his advice on a monthly basis through his new company, that trains people how to be agents and offers advice to aspiring models… 99.9% of the time Paul suggests the person to NOT continue their career as a model and to find a different career.

On his website: http://www.agenttrainingnetwork.com/, Paul Fisher holds training courses for those that wish to work for a modeling agency or run their own agencies one day. However, Paul is taking it upon himself to properly educate these individuals as to how they can make a difference by learning how to stay away from the negative, weight-obsessed requirements that many established agencies today thrive on.


The site is interesting and I think that Paul is definitely someone to be taken seriously, given all his experience in the field. I commend him and hope that his efforts truly create a new wave of agencies and bookers that are ready to break out of the tired old traditional mold that has influenced so many young people in negative ways over the years.

Some Pics From the Miss California USA Promo Event in LA

Here are a few images I managed to snag off the Miss California USA site, which were taken from our recent trip to Inta Gems & Diamonds in Los Angeles, where the contestants were promoting the pageant to the local media. We also went to another store but I think they're still in the middle of uploading those pictures. Soon as they're up, I'll post them.

Here you go!

Shot from inside as we were looking at the gems and diamonds:



Group shot in front of the store (I'm on the left):



The place was nothing but mirrors--of course I had to check my hair! LOL:

Answering a Reader Question #28


Anonymous Wrote:

What kind of modeling can I do at 5'6. A few agencies in NY have shown interest in me, but usually tell me I'm simply too short to be represented by them. With all the competition out there what agencies to you recommend going to that may consider me despite the fact that I am two inches below average.


You are the ideal height for commercial/print, so unfortunately, no runways, however this type of modeling books very high paying gigs and can lead to a good career if you do well. Because the height and weight requirements are more flexible than fashion, commercial/print models tend to lead longer careers than other fields. So my best advice to you would be to look up NY agencies that have commercial/print divisions. They are out there, at least half a dozen you can look into. If you would like a list of these agencies, shoot me an email (check my contact info on here), and I can get that to you.