A Hartbeespoort man who works as a talent and publicity agent for aspiring and established actors, is being accused by artists and parents of making false promises, not paying for work done, and not delivering what he has been paid for.
Bennie Wolmarans, owner of Active Casting Talent Management, a ‘broadcasting and media production company, advertising agency, talent management and professional modelling house’, was the subject of an investigative piece by Carte Blanche on Sunday, and the Huisgenoot magazine dedicated two pages to his alleged ‘Hollywood’ promises to clients, that never saw the light of day. From promises of roles in the world-famous Fast & Furious movies, to big brand international television advertisements, and even appearances on the Ellen DeGeneres show, are all stories Kormorant heard from Hartbeespoort residents the past week. Kormorant also spoke to Wolmarans about the accusations.
Well-known former Mrs South Africa, Lorna Greyling, who turned actress and television presenter, is one of several people who claims Wolmarans owes her money for work she has done for him. A number of Hartbeespoort mothers say they are still waiting to receive photos and portfolios from Wolmarans that they had paid for. Others are dealing with disappointed children who were allegedly told by Wolmarans that they would get roles in a new Fast & Furious movie, as well as an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show.It all started locally after Lorna was allegedly contacted by Wolmarans to present a series of acting workshops for his company. “I was to present the workshops and unfortunately I suggested people who I have worked with previously. Many of the children who took part in the Miss and Mr Hartbeespoort pageant I organised last year, signed up for the workshops. The workshops in November went well, but I was not paid all the money I was owed. After numerous correspondence and promises, I told him if he is not going to pay me, I have no choice but to expose this on social media to protect other people. By this time, I had heard of other people in the same position and people who have paid but not received what they had paid for. Wolmarans finally became almost aggressive, threatening in messages to ‘destroy my career’, saying I am a ‘liar and a snake’ and that I had now declared war,” Lorna said. A mother of two, Heidi Nel told Kormorant that she had paid Wolmarans over R13 000 for various things such as photos of her two children, portfolios, T-shirts, make-up etc. “All we got was the workshop in November which we paid just over R4 000 for. When I enquired about the photos, I was told the photographer is on schedule. The worst was that my children were told that he had organised them roles in the new Fast & Furious movie. He was going to email us the script. Well, we are still waiting. In the meantime, my husband has done some research and found out that the latest movie in this series has already been filmed and definitely not in South Africa.”
Another mother, Diane du Toit said she was approached by Wolmarans after her son Jade (15) won a photogenic competition. “Jade attended the same workshop in November but never even received a certificate for his attendance. Jade was promised a role in Fast & Furious and Bennie sent us messages saying to get ready, because we are going to New York on 1 June 2021 to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show.” Another mother told Kormorant that she had paid about R3 200 for two supposed photo shoots of her baby and only received a few photos that were taken in the foyer of the location where the workshops were held last year. “I even had to pay R750 for my baby to be registered for tax! He told me that my baby was chosen for a Volvo advertisement and promised to email me the details. Wolmarans also announced on the company’s Facebook page that the baby was chosen for an international advertisement. “I haven’t heard from Bennie since,” the mother said. A photographer, Malise de Meillon, who was contracted by Wolmarans to take photographs at the workshops, said he approached her and asked her to join his agency and do work for him. “He even said he could get me modelling work. I had to pay a R3 500 joining fee and that would include a portfolio. He asked me to take the photos at the Hartbeespoort acting workshop for which I was never paid. I have also not received a portfolio. And then on top of this, he contacted my mother and borrowed R2 000 from her after he told her he was robbed after being hacked, or some such story. She is so goodhearted, she felt sorry for him and paid over the money. That has also not been paid back.” In the meantime more people reported dealings with Wolmarans to Kormorant, like paying him to do accounting work that never materialised. Singer Armand Hofmeyr told Kormorant that he was contacted by Wolmarans to represent him. He wanted me to sign a contract and I told him that was one thing I would not do. The next thing, he was advertising on Facebook that I was a client. I immediately phoned him and demanded that he take me off his Facebook. I contacted other singers whose names he used and warned them. And nothing came of all the shows he promised me,” Armand said. A number of parents said they have already paid money towards acting workshops that are supposed to take place in March this year. On his advertisements, he claims Lorna and a string of well-known actors such as Leon Schuster, Sandra Prinsloo and Marius Weyers will attend the workshops. All these actors denied knowing Wolmarans, with Leon Schuster telling Carte Blanche that “it is absolutely bull dust!” These are only a few allegations against Wolmarans that Kormorant has seen or heard of from affected people. Kormorant contacted Wolmarans this week, asking for his side of the story. “I gave my side and facts to Carte Blanche but they did not broadcast it. I hope Kormorant is more fair,” he said. Wolmarans denied the allegations against him. “I think this whole thing has got out of hand. There is a clan in Hartbeespoort that is driving this thing and Huisgenoot is known for twisting the truth. It all has to do with jealousy,” he said. Regarding the workshops and not paying Lorna in full, he said that Lorna was supposed to give him video material of the workshops which she never did as her camera equipment was stolen. Lorna in turn said there was nothing about video material in her contract. “I asked him to show me this so-called contract containing this detail. I only had to present the workshops.” Wolmarans denied owing parents anything. “We had contracts and these parents never signed and returned them to me. I always did the right thing. I have already had my lawyer look at the Carte Blanche programme.” Regarding the promised roles in the Fast & Furious movie, he said he is merely an agent and does not make the decisions. “I send my clients’ details through to the production company, no agency can make these decisions. I did not promise them roles. I think this whole issue is jealousy of ACTM. These people think they are going to ruin my reputation, but that is not going to happen. In fact, we signed an international actress and model just on Friday,” he said.