#1842 August Models owes a lot of models a lot of money

Top model Alice Burdeu (repped by August in New Zealand). Photo: tfs

Many of you would have seen the story that Campbell Live ran last Friday about Tay Lee, the young student who booked a job through August Models some two years ago, and never received payment. Despite calling, emailing and stopping by the office multiple times, Lee says the $300 remained unpaid. But that $300 is just a drop in the ocean, according to industry insiders. I’ve been contacted by three models in the past 10 days: Two internationals who were placed with August in 2009 and 2010 are both owed upwards of $4000 each, despite their respective agencies repeatedly attempting to get the money; and another model, based in Australia, is owed $2000. Bookers from other agencies – while quick to say that it’s an incredibly hard market out there – have denounced August’s actions as making the entire industry look unprofessional.

Late last year, August was fined $10,000 by the Department of Labour for failing to pay an actor who worked as an extra on Shortland Street. The amount owing? $258. According to Linda Wilson of the Department of Labour, “Unfortunately August Models and Talent Limited failed to show up to two Employment Relations Authority hearings, and a subsequent Employment Court hearing… What was a relatively small amount to be paid in outstanding wages has become a significant cost because the company failed to comply with minimum employment rights and failed to turn up to hearings.”

And just last week, August settled a liquidation application with Owen Anderson, a 53 year old actor who was never paid his fee for a TV commercial booked by the agency. According to sources, the amount owing was less than $5000.

UPDATE: August Models and Talent ceased trading as of last week, and the agency will soon be relaunched as Kimberley Hill Management. According to the former director, attempts are being made to wind the company down in “the most responsible way,” and the matter is now in the hands of lawyers and accountants.


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  1. Ronnie Tinker says

    August should live up to its name (for the plebs – ‘august’ : inspiring reverence or admiration).

    Ronnie Tinker

  2. Anon says

    Any advice for someone that has booked a model through August and processing invoice at the moment, and wanting to ensure that the model does get paid?

  3. Rebekkah Farrell says

     Do you think this is the case for makeup artists, photographers etc that work with August?

  4. Grace says

     Do you think this is the case for makeup artists, photographers etc that work with August?Do you think this is the case for makeup artists, photographers etc that work with August?

  5. No says

    You could always pay the model direct. However, this will cause you some issues as you don’t have a contract with the model and the model would not have rendered you with a GST invoice.  Given this, by paying the model direct you do not satisfy your obligations to August.  The best approach would appear to be to contact August asking them to confirm payment to the model. 

  6. Anon says

    I remember dealing with them more than 5 years ago and they were a nightmare back then.   That Erin Ashby with the fake blonde hair was horrible and they made promises that they never kept.  Dodgy as!

  7. Steve says

     If anyone ever has problem with being unpaid from any employer, be it a modeling agency, or a meat works. You can always approach free law services for help. They’re usually listed on the internet have offices in most New Zealand cities. On particular night’s these free law service provide employment lawyers that can offer you free advice on what to do about your problem. In most cases you can take your employer to a mediation meeting through the employment tribunal, to work out how they’re going to pay you your money. If they fail to show to the meetings or don’t stick to an agreed payment schedule, you are then within your right to file to have the company liquidated (like Owen Anderson did). It’s a fairly easy process, and only cost’s about $100 or so, cool huh! If you are owed money, my advise would be to speak to an employment lawyer, have them help you draft a letter explaining that you would like your money paid on ‘so and so’ date, and if it is not paid to you by then, you will be seeking the help of a mediation service through the employment tribunal, and if they fail to show to the meetings, you’ll be filing to have there company liquidated. You watch how they react to that! ; ) 

  8. Rebecca says

     I did 16 shows at Fashion Week 2 years ago with August and only received $300 (at the most, it might have been much less, of the thousand or so owed to me. After not having been paid a year later, my parents had to go into August and demand the money. I assumed that all agencies were like this, and so have never signed with an agency since. Are all agencies not like this? Modeling within New Zealand can only really ever be a hobby for the majority of models, and it’ll usually cost them more than they’ll earn. Its not right, and I’m really glad that August has been exposed.

    Also noticed a while ago that August filed for bankruptcy. They must have found an investor, to still be in business. I pity that investor!

  9. Emilykatejohnston90 says

    Oh dear I just realized I haven’t been paid for a commercial I booked through them in (funnily enough) August last year. I’ll email them now thanx for the reminder Issac!

  10. Jan says

    no,not all agency’s are like this, though most of them may take up to a few months to pay you, you will generally receive all you are owed

  11. Jo says

    Interesting to hear the comments posted.  My daughter has never been paid by her agency either despite doing a number of jobs.  She never asks about payment because (a) she is young and (b) she is just so happy to do it.  Also we do appreciate there are costs to cover. However, it would be nice to be kept in the loop with regard to payment vs. expenses.  Meanwhile I spend lots of my time and money running her around.  I want to be supportive but find it very frustrating.  I’m feeling many within the industry (magazines etc) are taking advantage of these girls – simply because there will always be a steady stream of young girls just dying to get in front of the camera.

  12. Gigi says

    I modelled through August in 2009 and was owed around $500 for some catwalk shows. After 5 months of phone calls, emails and repeated excuses like “the cheque is in the mail”, “we had a wrong address for you”, “we lost our computer system for a week”, I got sick of waiting and contacted a journalist from the Sunday Star Times. The journalist contacted August and funnily enough, August suddenly found the means to put the money into my bank account the next day.

  13. Saradee says

    I have just been considering joining Kimberley Hill Management, under good authority that she is really well known and liked in the industry?? Can someone please advise if KHM is just an August shadow or if they are reliable etc?


  14. Hanssanderson says

     Red Eleven is notorious for this.  They are really tricky, really pushing you into jobs and saying you will get lots of money and then say you owe them money for website costs / cards etc.  They don’t pay photographers either.  The booker Peter called me fat as well. Really unprofessional.

  15. Amy says

     Now I remember my interview with August a few years back. They were happy to represent me, but on the condition that I pay $400-500 in order to do so… 

  16. RED11 says

    We at Red11 actually have problems with talent coming on board and getting work pretty quickly, and then being surprised at the costs involved to get this work. Who did they expect to pay for this?  This despite that we not only talk through the costs with them before they sign their contract but we give them a copy of the contract AND THE SHEET with the costs before they are even on the books.  
    There are costs to running any business. And Red11 always have statements available for our talent so they can see costs at any given time. Red11 often wear start up costs initially until talent start earning money as part of us helping people get on their feet and decide if the more often than not part time modelling and talent work is for them. Even after that, we subsidise costs by doing online marketing that costs Red11 in time rather than couriering out books & cards that cost the talent.
    We organise a lot of free shoots for the models & talent so they can learn the ropes as opposed to making them pay out $450-700 for a test just to get them started, which offers no guarantees it is going to work for them.
    Since we don’t make money til our people make money, we are doing a lot of work not only for free to start them off, but AT A COST to Red11. Yet they don’t get bills from us for all the marketing, staff time, making phone calls for them or driving them around on go sees as they learn the ropes under our guidance. Pretty simple stuff really.
    Like any job, though, if the costs outweigh the gains, then you always have choices.  Gains can come in the form of $$$, pictures, experiences or just achieving something simple (the amount of people on our books delighted with their featured extra roles on Spartacus is awesome!).
    Bookers at Red11 try to be vigilant in NOT using the “F” word, as people are humans and they have feelings. However, if you refer to ‘THE SKINNY MODEL DEBATE PART I’ on RED11’s blog, we mention aspects of requirements to do a job. If you are not fit for the job of talent and modelling, then not talking about it, confronting it or working on a strategy doesn’t make it magically disappear. 
    And we would hardly cast stones at Red11: I am size 14! Hardly skinny. But what am I? Thank goodness I no longer model. I’d be out of a job.
    While I can not say what was fact with Hanssanderson’s accusation toward Peter, I would say this person was selective on what they chose to listen to. We would know, as Mandy and I have been working with Peter both here at Red11 for over 5 years and at Clyne for over two.
    So to Hanssanderson, if Peter actually called you fat and you felt that his approach was unprofessional, please feel free to lay a complaint with myself or Mandy. That is a professional approach.

  17. An says

    Even if there are costs involved with being with an agency (comp cards, portfolios etc..), the agency should provide you with a record of the costs as opposed to just ignoring you and refusing to respond to you.. If they stonewall you (especially for this large a period of time) then you can guesstimate that their not willing to part with your money..

  18. Jn Wallace says

    Never use AUGUST Models or KHM they both sux we have been to court to try and get payment ,Erin didn’t even show up to court.  The court staff have now been around to get payment and we find they have moved from Freemans bay address.  Does anyone know where they have moved too?

    My 3 and a half  yr old did an ad 2 yrs ago and no payment !!!!!

  19. Aliceliz Tucker says

    I work for Kim occasionally to style her models and talents hair for their portfolio photos. She is amazingly lovely and is doing everything right in terms of representation, unlike her predecessor. If you’re wanting to go through Kim there is an initial cost but she has a high booking record and has a sincere interest in all her clients. By all means look into it :)

  20. Nadia says

    Oh wow thought I should google August and see whats going on with them. I was owed $500 for two commercials I did with them back in 2007. I repeatedly sent them emails, phone calls but didnt hear anything. I went to go see them too, and the owner actually pushed me out of the door since I was bothering her. So I went to Fair Go. Actually had a recording of the one receptionist calling this one girl fat, and used other colourful words after getting off of the phone with her. After the Fair Go team went and did their thing with them, before it was aired, they paid me. Thought all modelling agencies were like this, so have not bothered signing up to anyone. Its a shame that they spoil the business like this….Hope the other models/talents get their money eventually! 

  21. Ethnebellingham says

    I did an ad for August which is still rolling over from 2003 and because I live some of the year in the UK  Erin Ashby simply didn’t pay me and fobbed me off with all sorts of excuses when I emailed asking about payment.  The only time I got any money out of her apart from the initial and possibly the second payment ..was when I was back in NZ and fronted up and demanded payment.  She would only pay a minimum of what I was owed that year, promising more in the future that never materialised.  She owes me around $6,000..possibly more.  The woman has the integrity of a vulture in a premmie unit!  What is worse, when I contacted KHM about my rollover (after I had tried to get hold of Erin at her office in 2010 and found KHM had taken over, I found out that KHM had obviously not arranged to have the payment made to them rather than to August and another heap of my money disappeared into Erin’s pocket.  I consider that even though noone had told me KHM had taken over, they were technically my agent and they had a duty of care to ensure my payment was safe from Erin.  I am outraged that they seem to think it is OK to deny me my rightful earnings simply because they didn’t bother to update their records.  I have asked KHM for information about legal avenues to pursue what I am owed…but so far…a long silence!  

  22. Dean says

    Hahaha I know a chick who is on their books there. Sucker. As you might be able to tell I dont like the skank. And thats what she is. A skank.
    She’s never even been booked. She wasted loads of money on stuff to get on their books and cant even get a job with them. And even if she had sounds like she wouldnt get paid anyway.

  23. Nora says


    I did work for Kimberley Hill back in July 2013, but have not been paid yet, despite promises that money would be paid before Christmas. I am disgusted by the lack of ethics that these companies have.

  24. Anon says

    Kimberley and KHM are in BIG financial trouble! I am only now getting payment sorted from May last year. Never deal with these people!

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