Before you think Karon will make you a starr with the IMTA read the rest of the blog!

Modeling convention puts local faces on L.A. radar


An invitation from IMTA is something not to pass up.

For example, Katie Holmes, Brookes Burns and Ashton Kutcher all once received IMTA invitations — when hardly any one else knew them. They accepted.

Who knows what the future holds for Calli McLaughlin, 5, and sister Molli McLaughlin 7, both of Rutland, or Jada Lopez, 10, of Lawrence, or Trevor Ruggles, 40, of Auburn.

The four were part of a contingent of 20 students at the La Femmina Modeling Training Center/Karon Shea Model Management in Worcester who went to the International Modeling and Talent Association convention in Los Angeles in January, after being selected by IMTA scouts who had held auditions at the school. The invitation to attend IMTA was contingent on them taking intense modeling and acting training for three months at the school.

In Los Angeles, the 20 took part in competitions with 1,000 other hopefuls in an array of modeling and acting categories, and were watched by 400 talent managers and agents from all over the world. These mangers and agents, in turn, had the opportunity to contact contestants they might be interested in representing, signing and managing. While they were in L.A. there was also an earthquake, Karon Shea, the modeling school’s owner, recalled — 5.5 on the Richter scale.

Molli and Calli caused quite a few shock waves themselves, getting the most callbacks of the 20 contestants from La Femmina/Karon Shea — 27 and 20 respectively.

Ruggles got quite a few too, including from an agency in France. Jada also attracted a lot of interest, particularly from Los Angeles agencies.

Would she move to Los Angeles?

“Definitely. Tomorrow if I have to,” said her mother, Keyshla Penalo. “She’s very mature, very talented,” she said of her daughter, who received honorable mention in “Sitcom,” “TV Beauty” and “TV Real People” categories.

“It was amazing. It was so much fun,” said Jada.

Would she go to L.A. to live? “We’ll wait and see. We’re very excited,” she said.

Altogether, the students from La Femmina/Karon Shea had 112 callbacks at the convention, said Mark W. Steina, who oversees the IMTA training at the school.

IMTA, which is based in Arizona, was founded 22 years ago by Helen Rogers. Steina said Rogers had been sending her students all over the world for auditions and meetings. She concluded it would be easier to have fashion agents, talent agents, casting directors and so on all together in one spot — at least for a week. Actually two, since IMTA holds two conventions a year, one in Los Angeles and one (July 18 to 25) in New York City.

But agents and managers are only going to expend the time at such an event if it is worth their while, Steina noted.

IMTA states that “Membership in the International Modeling and Talent Association is by invitation-only. Our IMTA members have passed a rigorous qualification process and are the most prestigious in the industry.”

La Femmina/Karon Shea is a new member of IMTA. Last fall it put out a call for open auditions to the Los Angeles IMTA convention. IMTA scouts who attended the Worcester audition selected 19 of the 121 who showed up (20 ended up going to L.A.). They then went through training. Instructors included Anthony Vorres, director of the Actors Loft in Worcester, and Melanie Donegan.

“I’m a little overwhelmed” Melissa McLaughlin said of the splash Calli and Molli went on to make in Los Angeles. “They had never done any acting. I wasn’t expecting anything.”

She said she’ll proceed “with baby steps” concerning their modeling or acting careers, noting that her daughters are very young. “But I’m definitely open to this.”

The daughters enthusiastically agreed. Molli said she especially enjoyed the runway.

Ruggles, at 40, went to the open audition not really understanding the whole process. But he was called back for an interview with an IMTA scout.

“The IMTA person went over my strong points and weak points … The training helped us get out of our comfort zones. We went out as best prepared as we could get.”

Ruggles won 11 awards. He owns a health care business and is not necessarily looking to give up the day job.

“I just thought it was a phenomenal experience,” he said.

Stephanie Raffa, 25, of Worcester works as a waitress at the Olive Garden in Marlboro.

“The experience was absolutely unbelievable,” she said. One of her callbacks was with Moonstar Management of Los Angeles and New York City.

“You only live once,” she said of why she auditioned. And got sponsors, and had a fundraising dinner party.

The IMTA experience “is expensive,” Steina acknowledged. From the beginning of training to flights, hotels and the convention, the total cost is about $5,000.

On the other hand, the experience brings exposure. “You could hop in your car and go to New York and spend a week and never audition for anybody,” Steina said.

So was it worth the money?

“Absolutely. The money wasn’t even a factor,” Raffa said.

And who knows what will happen?

A couple of weeks after being interviewed for this story, Jada Lopez and her mom went to L.A. and signed with HRI agency, one of the largest casting agencies in that city for children. They are moving to L.A. April 10.

“We are really excited for her,” said Steina.

Auditions to attend the New York City IMTA convention will be held at La Femmina Modeling Training Center and Karon Shea Model Management, 64 Water St., Worcester, beginning at 1 p.m. March 29. For more information, call (508) 755-0662.


Anonymous said...

What kills me is that she is no longer licensed as a modeling agency or operating as one. So she needs to find some revenue to bring in so she is back to being a school. Aren't all of the models that signed up and paid all that money a little pissed off?

Why would people pay 2 people that can't run their own agencies to teach them how to be a model or actor? Yes, thats right the name associated with this article is Mark Steina, the gentlemen who ran JRP in Worcester and then Ovation Model and Talent. Plus he works for John Robert Powers in Boston. Sounds like Karen Shea found herself another GOOD salesman.....

Read between the lines of that article in the paper. Thats an awful loot of money to shell out. 3 big name celebrities went through there didn't say they were discovered there. If you don't believe it call some big name agencies and ask them if they attend the IMTAs and if they have ever discovered anyone there if they do attend. Do your homework before investing $5000.

Anonymous said...

Maybe everyone should check out the latest episode of Adteline and how they did it on modeling scams and IMTA"s . Quite interesting. Seems all places give the same pitch of how mnay people were called back etc.
Its all bull. If you have the money you can go. Simple as that. None of the big name agencies are there as was quoted on dateline by the owner of Elite himself. Only other small agencies go. One more scam to the susceptible people who want to be famous to think their kids are the best!

Also, Karon Shea is now Karon Shea Enterprises. And Karon is the CEO and president. Have to be incorporated to actually be the president and not the owner. Funny how she just keeps chnagig the name. Of and the actors loft ids under the Dance Academy not Lafemmina so that they arent regulated by the state to file academic criteria to the state for approval with a teaching license. One mor sneaky think after another.

It gets better, now you can be taught how to act by the wonderfully talented Christine Agriopoulus(sp. sorry for butchering) It kills me that people that have not actually ever done anything such as her and Anthony Vorres are teaching classes and people are going to pay money for this. Anthony has done ind. films and lived in LA. oooow!!! So have I so I guess I should be teaching. Actually I have done more than him so I guess that I could....hee!hee!

The more I see this the more pissed I get. When are people going to learn.

Ricarte Rivera said...

No, this doesn't sound right. When I was acting in NYC I took my headshots to a real manager (no showcase). He sent my pictures to All My Children, and for the HBO film Maria Full of Grace and I got both auditions for free. The IMTA "showcase" I did cost me $6,800 USD and only one talent agency (Fresh Faces from Long Island NY) and one manager (Goldstar Entertainment) contacted me. They both decided NOT to represent me and a month later I got a $100,000.00 USD commercial. The agent is still representing one minor celebrity and the management company just went under. You want to act, come to Los Angeles and submit for everything you can on LAcasting dot com, actorsaccess dot com, and Instant Cast dot com like I do. You can really make it, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. To your success, Ricarte Rivera