PSA: Curt Howe & Ripoff Report

I wanted to post something regarding Curt Howe and Charlie’s Talent Agency (CTA).  As with every industry, you sometimes make a few enemies, even when you haven’t done anything wrong.  I have known Curt for several years, and he represents me in the Midwest for SAG/AFTRA projects.  He signed me when all I had on my resume were a local theatre production and high school plays.  He gave me a chance, and got me in to all the local casting agencies, including Pound Mooney, Detroit Casting Company, and Carrie Ray Casting, just to name a few in Michigan.  It’s because of him that I had the opportunity to be in Red Dawn and Salvation Boulevard as a supporting cast member.   He believed in me and pushed and fought for me, and he’s gotten me into so many auditions, even in the last couple of months. He submits me for roles he believes I can play, and even when I don’t fit the breakdown, the casting agents sometimes see me for them.  As any professional actor knows, there may be a hundred no’s before you get a yes.  It’s part of the job.  Sometimes you don’t fit the look.  You could be an amazing actor but your talent agent and casting agent don’t make the final decisions on casting.  The sooner we all stop having delusions of grandeur and expecting to become stars overnight, the better for our local budding industry.  If we can’t all work together and make Michigan look GOOD and PROFESSIONAL, how many productions will want to give us a chance and use local casting?  Because pushing someone else down to drown so that you can get ahead doesn’t work.  Be thankful for every audition you get, and keep working on your craft, and one day you WILL get a yes.  But do NOT blame your not getting parts on your talent agent after he/she has worked to land you an audition in the first place.  The blame game and the hatred and the lies a certain individual has been propagating across the internet does our local industry no good.  We should be helping one another, because success can be contagious.  We need to show that we are just as professional and just as qualified and talented as actors from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.  I don’t need to name names, but be warned, you are only succeeding in painting yourself out of the picture and blacklisting your own name.  In this industry, you never want to burn bridges nor bite the hand that feeds you.

My name is Cindy Chu, and I am a SAG actor.  I am proudly represented by Curt Howe of Charlie’s Talent Agency aka CTA.

My Michigan PSA

I’m writing this post as a PSA to Michigan talent, or anyone interested in the acting industry in Michigan.  Any agency that asks you for money UPFRONT is a SCAM!!!!  Agents make their money off of commission, meaning they get you auditions, you book the work, you get paid, then you pay them their fee.  The only legitimate agency I know that charges you to join is Real Style, an extras casting agency.  Last I knew, they charged $15 as a one-time fee to put you into their database, but I know that they have done extras casting on many major films and they get you PAID work.  In fact, companies like JR Galactic are the ones you should stay away from.  I once did an extras gig on Trivial Pursuits (now changed to Answer This!), that I found through a message from I-Group, and was paid $50/day.  The extras that were cast from JR Galactic were only given $30/day…wonder where the rest of it was going?

If you are interested in finding an agency, these are the ONLY SAG/AFTRA-franchised agencies that I know of in Michigan:

1) Charlie’s Talent Agency (CTA)–I am exclusive with this agency for film/tv work.  They specialize in film/tv.

2) Productions Plus (Talent Shop is now joined with them)–PP is a huge agency and does commercial, industrial, and print work, as well as film/TV.  So if you’re interested in modeling, car shows, etc., this is a great way to get in and get started.

3) I-Group–I-Group casts models for fashion, print, etc. along with film/TV, so again, probably an easier one to get started with.

A good way to be prepared to join any of these agencies is to have A) headshots for film/TV work, and B) comp cards if you’re going into modeling.  Simply having a resume of extra/stand-in work isn’t really enough to get you noticed now.  Try getting involved with some student films, or local indie productions, and even local theatres for some stage acting experience.  I am a SAG member, but it took me  a long time to get where I am.  I have extensive stage acting experience, along with having participated in Grosse Pointe South’s show choir program for all 4 years of high school, not to mention being in choir and/or band most of the rest of my K-12 education.  Even after high school, I participated in some student/indie films, and local theatre productions, doing whatever I could to participate and gain experience.  If you have talent and you work hard at it, eventually it’ll pay off for you, too.

These are just my words of advice, everyone has a different path to follow.  Maybe my advice won’t work for you, but I think it’s a good basic guide on what to do.  Best of luck and break a leg!

Stay lovely,


PS:  With all the films coming in to the state to film, a lot of scammers have been popping up, offering you the world for the small fee of, say, $500 or whatever they charge.  Remember that NONE of these companies are legitimate, and you can always call the SAG offices to find out if an agency is actually franchised or not, or look them up on the BBB, Better Business Bureau.  I was once at an indie animated audition, and a gentleman was there saying he’d helped organize the audition, and had formed a new agency and was looking for new talent.  He asked me what I’d been working on and there were so many red flags that popped up about him as soon as we started having a conversation about the industry.  1) He didn’t even know who the casting agents were that I was mentioning I’d had auditions with the past few months, and these are the local casting agents the Hollywood films have been using to find local talent.  2) He didn’t know the current projects that were shooting here, and anyone who follows the film industry at ALL, by reading local newspapers or looking online could find this out.  3) He has no film industry experience.   I won’t mention his agency name because I don’t want to smear him, but I’m sharing this story to warn you of the people that appear out of the woodwork when they smell money to be made and some easy prey.  You have to be careful and do your research so you don’t fall victim to these industry vultures.

Cindy Chu--Actress

Cindy Chu--Actress--Charlie's Talent Agency