Part one in a series highlighting allegations of mistreatment of foreign models in the American fashion industry.
Tereza Kačerová, best known for starring in a Maroon 5 music video for their song “Maps”, spoke out against Wilhelmina Models Inc., saying the company owes her thousands of dollars. Kačerová and other models said they believe the industry giant’s failure to reimburse Kačerová is indicative of the modeling industry’s culture to mistreat foreign-born models.
Wilhelmina is one of the largest modeling and talent management agencies in the world, with bases in Miami, Los Angeles, New York and London. Kačerová took to her Instagram to speak out against the Miami location in a two-part series that went viral in modeling circles. The company’s attorney said that Kačerová is falsely accusing them of improper activity.
A Czech-born actress and model, Kačerová said that she worked with Wilhelmina on a series of jobs, many of which were located outside of the United States.
“I’ve been modeling for over seven years now, been with dozens of agencies all around the world yet none of them has been as reluctant (to put it mildly) to pay me for my work as @wilhelminamodelsmia,” Kačerová wrote on Instagram. “These people have been withholding money from me for jobs I have completed as long as over a YEAR ago ago.”
Kačerová provided Rise News with a series of emails and documents that highlight the models’ growing frustration with Wilhelmina. Kačerová said she is still owed $4,279. Of this sum, Kačerová said that $3,600 worth of plane tickets were never reimbursed to her.
Typically, the client will pay for models’ travel expenses, but Kačerová said she chose to book her own flights and get reimbursed because she gained points on her card for flying miles.
“The foreign girls get treated as second-hand citizens. It’s disgusting.”- Roxanne Czajkowski on Instagram
Kačerová said that after a series of emails with Wilhelmina, she received three checks meant to reimburse her for these flights. Kačerová said that with every check, a seemingly random figure was deducted from the final amount, less than what Kačerová said she is rightfully owed.
A lawyer working for Wilhelmina was quick to contact Kačerová with a cease and desist email regarding the posts.
“I am in receipt of copies of Ms. Kacerova’s recent defamatory posts on social media, vilifying Wilhelmina and falsely accusing it of criminal activity. This is a very serious accusation, one that Wilhelmina does not take lightly,” Wilhelmina’s attorney Ali Grace Marquart said in an email. “Please immediately instruct your client to remove the defamatory posts and cease and desist from writing and/or speaking any such false accusations about Wilhelmina, including but not limited to any of its employees, officers, or directors.”
Despite this letter, Kačerová did not take down the posts. Marquart and Wilhelmina have not responded to requests for comment as of publication time.
Kačerová’s 29,100 followers were quick to support her, and in some cases, share their own experiences as well.
”Exactly, this is disgusting. Aside from all the bullshit that is dealt with in being with an agency, from looks to flights, to bookings, to fees. Running around, and not being payed should not be something anyone should put up with. It’s completely unprofessional,” model Roxanne Czajkowski said in the comments. “Especially for foreign girls. There [sic] so much priority over the American girls, and their pay, expenses, promotion. The foreign girls get treated as second hand citizens. It’s disgusting…No agency should treat any human being as a slave of labor. Glad someone spoke out about this.”
Kačerová is currently represented by Nous Model Management, a Los Angeles based company.
Kačerova said that Nous is no longer working with Wilhelmina.
Nous declined a request for comment.
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Photo Credits: Tereza Kačerová/Instagram.