Parents should be cautious of a company claiming to help turn their children into Disney stars at its upcoming Melbourne event.
“Does your child dream of becoming a Disney Channel star? We are coming to Melbourne!” the post reads.
Clicking the link takes users to an “audition form”, which asks readers if they would like to “meet stars like Ariana Grande or Skai Jackson”.
“If you love the Disney Channel and shows like ‘Jessie’ or ‘Bunk’d’, be one of the first 200 callers right now to schedule your audition!” the site encourages.
The only problem? The company, Premiere, has no affiliations with Disney.
A Disney spokesperson made this clear.
“The recent child talent auditions that have been advertised as taking place across Australia are in no way associated with or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company or Disney Channel,” the spokesperson told Mamamia.
We’ve not going to call Premiere’s audition process a “scam”, but its practices are far from scrupulous.
Despite this, many parents of children who have attended the sessions speak highly of Premiere.
The US-based company — which claims on its website it is not a talent agency but an “arts competition, designed to showcase” young talent — entices parents of stardom-seeking children to it’s auditions with Disney Channel actors.
Actors like Peyton List of the Disney Channel television series ‘Jessie’ appear in photos and videos on the company’s website, including footage of them attending Premiere events.
This, along with the clever wording in the advertisements, may lead parents to believe Premiere is associated with the Walt Disney Company, which it is not, despite having hosted events at Walt Disney World.
The company holds events in Australia and overseas, known as "Evaluation Weekends", where children are assessed before being accepted into Premiere.
Sydney business-owner Louise Hedges' two teenage daughters attended the sessions in August last year and said reports the company misled parents were untrue.
"They were open in saying they were not affiliated with Disney," Ms Hedges said.
"There is no other way that I know of for your child to audition in front of 30 to 50 international agents."
Ms Hedges said her eldest daughter Amanda, now 17, signed up with a Sydney agent after attending Premiere's showcase event in July and had since acted in several TV commercials and other roles.
She said no promises were made to her daughters about outcomes of the showcase, and the fees - ranging from $1,900 to about $4000 - were not exorbitant.
The Sydney mum added though, that she would discourage parents from taking out loans to finance their child's involvement.
Premiere does encourage parents to go on payment plans, according to the FAQ page on its website.
"Families that are in a position to pay up front can save themselves hundreds of dollars. Those who choose to go on a payment option, while paying a finance charge, are given the flexibility to manage their finances in a way that will accommodate the family," the site reads.
Disney's senior vice president Patti McTeague addressed the claims made by a similar-sounding event in Jacksonville, Florida in 2011, US newspaper First Coast News reported.
"Disney Channel is not affiliated with any acting school or acting workshop, and has not authorised a talent search in Jacksonville, Florida," Ms McTeague said.
"Disney hires talent two ways, through agents or an authorised casting call."
Premiere's site said the company does "attempt to be as transparent as possible with the services that you are purchasing when you accept an invitation to Premiere".
The site also points to several children Premiere has helped land work in TV and commercials, including some Disney shows, though these are not the well-known stars used to advertise the group.
Premiere put Mamamia in contact with Louise Hedges.