Note: This is the second part of a 2-part series. If you haven’t read part 1, click here.
I was at the supermarket with my mother when I noticed a familiar phone number flashing on my cell phone’s screen. It was my “nemesis” responding to my text. Admittedly, I was surprised that he didn’t just text me back. That’s what the great majority of my friends would have done. However, he always had a bit of an aversion to texting.
His voice was eerily cheerful when I finally answered. I quickly explained to him my reason for being in touch again after politely telling him to “have a nice life” just a few months earlier. (Prior to that incident, we hadn’t been in touch for over a year.) Normally, I wouldn’t have felt the need to explain myself, but I had a feeling that he didn’t fully read my initial message. Sure enough, he hadn’t.
“Oh, the agency,” he responded, “They’re a scam. I haven’t gotten any work through them.” That was not what I had expected to hear. They had his name and photo plastered all over their blog portraying him as one of their recent success stories. Sure I had been suspicious of the agency’s policy of charging fees. After watching America’s Next Top Model for several seasons, I knew that modeling agencies weren’t supposed to charge fees. At the same time, I understood that modeling agencies reimbursed themselves out of their models’ incomes for any expenses incurred. In addition, it was clear to me that if I had been a freelance model, I would have to invest in my own photos and marketing as well. Still, there were a few things about this scenario that didn’t make sense. My “nemesis” was always pretty business savvy. I couldn’t understand how after having so many years of modeling experience, he would suddenly fall for a scam so I asked him about it.
“Well you know me,” he replied, “There’s always a method to my madness. I hadn’t been modeling for a while and I needed something to make me appear to be a working model. I direct people to my portfolio on the agency’s website, but I also direct those people to book through my actual agent in NYC. However, I have to schedule a meeting with them to talk to them about misrepresenting their relationship with me. My other agent is who has been getting me work.”
So, I had my answer. The opportunity was indeed too good to be true. It turned out that the agency had hundreds of aspiring models paying high fees for portfolio creation, portfolio maintenance, and event attendance. I had hoped that their industry connections would end up making the initial investment worthwhile, but my “nemesis” crushed my dreams for that as well.
“I’m not even sure their industry connections exist,” he continued, “My interviewer didn’t even know what a go see was. They were convinced that I could be booked without potential clients meeting me in person.” In hindsight, they were not all that knowledgeable either. There were several times throughout my conversations with people at the agencies that I found myself correcting them on issues that they should have understood like trademarks, freedom of the press, and even character names for television shows that they referenced throughout their sales pitches / interviews.
I was trying to end the conversation and catch up with my mother again, but I noticed something interesting. At some point, my “nemesis” had turned my business conversation into a friendly phone call. He was laughing and joking just like he always did. I managed to get him off the phone with the promise of a phone call later that night so he could finish giving me pointers for my budding modeling career. Of course, he never actually got to those details when I called him back. I realized that more than anything, he missed our friendship. It almost made me feel sorry for him. Then I came back to my senses.
(Some of you may feel like I am being cold and unforgiving, but I can assure you that this is just one of those situations where it is better for he and I not to be in contact. In spite of it all, I do wish him well.)
When I caught up with my mother, I told her that I had been in touch with my “nemesis.” She wasn’t as troubled by the news as I had expected her to be. Instead, she actually seemed to approve. “I wasn’t going to tell you to call him,” she said, “But I did wish that you would call him to find out what was going on in that agency before signing there.” She always was pragmatic like that.
In the end, I called the modeling agency and canceled my coming meeting. The receptionist didn’t ask me for an explanation so I didn’t give one. As much as I despise saying this, my “nemesis” saved the day. Right now, I am fine with being the guy who has the build of a model but remains busy pursuing my academic and ministerial goals. If I am meant to have a national or international platform someday, I know that God will make it happen. In the mean time, I will focus on being the best man I can be in this stage of my life.