While driving back from Raleigh I spotted this billboard. Besides missing a coma or two it really made wonder. Well then again there was the whole, “this seems a little pimpish” feeling.
The organization sponsoring this is AMTC (Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ). According to the AMTC website they are a “nonprofit ministry dedicated to making good bolder in film, fashion, music and theater. Through a unique faith-based educational program, AMTC teaches performers how to become positive role models in the entertainment industry, then introduces them to top media executives through its international talent convention. AMTC follows The Great Commission of Jesus Christ by preparing actors, models, singers, dancers and comedians to ‘go into the world’ of arts and entertainment with love and excellence—as reflections of Christ and His truth.” – Source
I’m in no way saying there is anything wrong with this approach, it just made me curious about the organization.
According to public reports the organization was known as Project Dream Repair, Inc. In their last public year of returns, 2012, the organization took in about $6.2 million in income and generated a non-taxable “profit” of about $1.1 million.
The bulk of the groups revenue came from two things; The Bridge Training Program ($4.2 million) and Shine Convention ($2 million). – Source
Comparatively the company only lists $108,959 in contributions in the same year. But later says only $6,905 came from non-related organizations, the rest from Historic Actors, Models & Talent for Christ. It appears this charity does not receive much in the form of contributions. The group says it employed 148 people and had 20 volunteers.
The public return says the company spent $149,271 in “information sessions and auditions in over 40 cities designed to inform people of God’s movement in entertainment and audition performers who are called to this field. AMTC sends out daily devotions to all performers, ministry members, and interested people.”
According to material provided by the organization the Shine Conference includes “The Bridge” a talent missionary training program that costs between $3,895 and $4,995. – Source
The charities return says the Bridge Training is not designed to help people get into entertainment but to “prepare performers for the entertainment industry to become ambassadors for Christ.”
According to the 990 return the organization also owns a modeling management service, Pretty Penny Model Management, a for-profit corporation, and has a related organization known as Historic Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, Inc. which provides entertainment training.
The public return describes the relationship between the entities. “The charitable corporation named Project Dream Repair, Inc. changed its name to Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, Inc. and took over the management of the educational program that had been run by an organization that is now named Historic AMTC and which at the time was named Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, Inc.
In this explanation we will refer to AMTC and Historic AMTC. AMTC’s charitable activities from the date of incorporation were to raise funds and provide scholarship assistance to participants in an educational program that was run by Historic AMTC. The program included training and semi-annual talent competitions. All support, donations, and fund-raising activities were specifically designed for the purpose of granting scholarships based on financial need for students to attend the Historic AMTC program.”
According to the companies annual report there is some explanation. “Only a few months after committing to Christ, Carey was on a treadmill, ‘And I heard from God. He told me the name of AMTC would change from Actors, Models and Talent Competition to Actors, Models and Talent for Christ… because that’s what the ‘C’ was always meant to be.’
Another source says this replacement of Competition with Christ happened in 2007.
Lewis says, ‘I was thrilled, but my daughters and son-in-law were part of AMTC, and they weren’t Christians yet. What would they think? Well, God took care of that. Within two years, they committed to Christ and were baptized.’
AMTC was transformed, too. Lewis gave up legal ownership, and it became a 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry. Lewis’ son-in-law, Adam She, is now AMTC’s President. Adam says, ‘AMTC is now a training ground for missionaries: media missionaries to be exact. To get them prepared spiritually and physically. To learn how to succeed in this world, but not be of it. Because the most influential mission field on earth is media, and it’s not wise to enter it unprepared. It’s not godly to leave it alone.’” – Source
The BBB does not list any member company under the name Actors, Models & Talent for Christ.
Some have been positive about AMTC and some have been critical in the past about AMTC and have said things like “I actually went down there and auditioned last month for AMTC Actors, Models & Talent for CHRIST! You know what happened as it happens to everyone – I of course got the call back – everybody does. I got the callback as well as my son, my daughter and my neighbor and her 4 children. We were amazed as many, many others, were receiving callbacks too. I think everyone received callbacks.” – Source
One other person said, “Here’s basically what they tell you in a nutshell. You give me $3, 500.00 and we will teach, train and/or assist you in how to talk, walk, act, or whatever it is that you want to do and maybe you will get noticed by someone in the industry. Now keep in mind, we’re not promising or guaranteeing you anything. If you can afford to pay the $3, 500.00 in one payment, great, but if not, we have an easy payment plan. It will take you a year to pay this off with 12 easy payments of approx. 267.00 a month and a 7% handling fee. And, in one year, you can attend our SHINE convention but while you’re paying for this trip to the convention, here’s what you get….2 FULL days of training, daily devotional emails and a newsletter….nothing more. And, at the big 6 day convention, you will get 2 tickets for the participant and a guest to attend the convention, 2 tickets for the Banquet, 2 tickets to the wrap party, a photo shoot and let’s not forget the t-shirt. And you must stay at the hotel where the activities are being held.” – Source
Another online publication made the following observation, “Among those modeling industry poobahs referenced by Carey Lewis as vouching for AMTC’s bona fides is Ray Lata, formerly chief honcho at Wilhelmina Models’ Miami office. We tracked him down at his current post, at the agency’s L.A. office.
“I haven’t dealt with AMTC in some time,” Lata told New Times. “Maybe six years ago. We do locate talent at those conventions, so for a small minority, it’s everything it claims to be.” How small? “The odds are better than a lottery ticket.”
Odds on the Powerball at the Florida Lottery top out at 1-in-175,000,000, pick-6 Lotto at 1-in-23,000,000. AMTC may offer better odds than that. But there ain’t no lottery ticket that sells for $5,000 a pop.” – Source
AMTC touts success stories of graduates online here.
The bottom line is if you feel you want to make an investment in the billboard spotted above then do it with your eyes wide open. Just ask the company about their success rates of placing students and if you are comfortable with those odds and have up to $5,000 to not worry about, then do whatever you want to do.
But if you don’t have an extra $5,000 floating around that you can live without and this only makes sense for you if it leads to a paid job in the talent field, just do your homework first and be completely comfortable with your choice.
The company seems to appreciate this sort of healthy inquiry.
Here is a video put out by AMTC on “Truth, Reality, and Skepticism” which seems to reinforce the value of skepticism through examination and inquiry.