A talent management company has come under fire for calling on its clients to self-tape an audition for a non-existent job as part of an April Fool’s prank.
Dee Boss Talent Management sent out a briefing to clients on April 1, asking them to record a video for a commercial, called Veg Power, described as “a campaign to get people to eat their veg”. It promised £600 pay.
“We are trying to make vegetables appear appealing and yummy. We will be casting this via self-tapes due to the current climate, and we will be hoping to film this as soon as we come out the other side. But for now, we would love to get started on the casting process,” it said, adding that the advert would appear on UKTV and ITV.
It said it was looking for “a variety of ages to all play the parts of vegetables to encourage both adults and children to eat their vegetables”.
One of those who took part was a six-year-old. Her parent wrote on Twitter that she had been left “crying her eyes out”.
“I’ve just spent time and energy doing that when I should have been at work. She was so excited. She’s six,” they wrote.
Another, Imogen Miller Porter, said: “Nice to see the self-tape system works. I really wish I hadn’t cut short a VO lesson I paid for though. When an actor gets told there’s a 2pm deadline they drop things. £600 would be very useful right now.”
The move was criticised by many for duping actors at a time when theatres are closed and work is scarce.
Helen Raw, who runs the British Actors Network, tweeted: “Dee Boss Talent thought this would be funny. Many actors currently don’t have a pot to piss in and an ‘agent’ is having their clients waste time on a shitty fake casting, building up the hopes? Fuck right off.”
Others criticised it too, with actor Allison Saxton labelling it “cruel and heartless”.
Responding to Raw on Twitter, Dee Boss Talent admitted it was not “funny, but fun at a time that is very difficult for everyone”.
“I don’t have a ‘pot to piss in’ either! At the end of the day judging by all my emails today 95% of my clients had fun. To those that didn’t I have apologised,” it said.
In an email seen by The Stage sent to clients, the company said it was “sorry to the few people we have upset by doing this” and added: “It was not our intention.”
It said it had originally planned to edit the videos together and put them on Twitter as a “way of entertaining people”, but that it would no longer be doing this.
Clients also defended the prank, with actor Joanne Denson stating: “It was great fun being creative again. Please lighten up – it was meant to be fun and it was! I am proud to be represented by @DeeBossTalent.”
Actor Meg MacMillan said it “was a joke meant to give us all a giggle in such serious times, that’s all. Granted, it was probably poorly judged in the current climate but condemning them like this? There were clues for us to find in the email to let us know it was a joke.”
Dee Boss Talent has been approached for comment.