PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — What’s the difference between talent agents and acting schools?

You might not be able to tell the difference if you listen to commercials on the radio, but if you show up to some local cattle calls hoping to be the next big star, you’ll be able to tell when it comes time to open your wallet.

Kenny Joyce, 10, heard a commercial on a local radio station advertise the chance to be discovered by the representatives of the The (pronounced Tay) Group.

“They’d heard about a contest, about being on TV, becoming a star, meeting Justin Beiber, Selena Gomez, so naturally they got excited,” Tom Joyce, Kenny’s father, said.

Kenny got a callback for a second day, but the callback came with a price. Kenny was auditioning for a class that would cost his father thousands of dollars if he signed up right away.

“A thousand dollars registration, different packages from $1,900 to like $8,000,” Tom said. “Plus you got to find your own way down there, your airfare, your hotel, you got to do everything.

“And basically, I said, ‘This is a school.’

“And he said, ‘Well, kinda. It’s a school, but it’s exposure,’” Tom said.

Steven Black owns The Talent Group, a Pittsburgh-based modeling and talent agency. He’s seen this these type of searches come into the area before.

With a full roster of clients, Black says it’s not necessary to hold open recruiting sessions and he says agencies don’t ask you to pay for anything up front.

“Any agency that asks you for money up front, you should get up and run out the door as quickly as possible,” he said.

As for Kenny, he still wants to follow his dream, but right now, he’s a little disillusioned.

“I was mad because they’re like, ‘You’re great and we want you to come back,’ but they really just wanted our money.”

The The Group points out on their website that they are not a talent agency and they are an education opportunity.

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