Cleo Berry, 27 always had a dream of being an actor. He went to several castings, and took several pictures with different agencies, to try to make his dream come true. But Cleo got a rude awakening one day when he went to his computer to see a digitally altered diabetes ad featuring him as an overweight man in Los Angeles. Cleo says he was “beyond shocked” after seeing an altered photo of him on New York billboards, with his leg removed.
“I cried at my computer screen for, like, a minute. I said: ‘Oh my gosh, they even gave me crutches. Come on, people.’ ”
Mr. Berry tells the New York Times that while living in NYC years ago, he decided to participate in a $500 photo shoot with well known photographer Morten Smidt. Cleo had no idea that the photos would then be sold to ImageSource, a stock photo company. The pictures were then sold to New York City’s Department of Health, who digitally altered the photo having Berry’s right leg removed.
The New York City’s Department of Health is now using the photo as part of an anti-diabetes campaign. The health department states it’s common for altered photos to be displayed without getting the model’s permission, when contracts are signed and agreed to. Cleo Berry admits to signing the waiver before the shoot, which allows such alterations in photos to be resold and marketed according to the companies needs. A spokesman for the health department quoted :
“This issue isn’t about one actor but rather the 700,000 New Yorkers who struggle with diabetes, which kills 1,700 people a year and causes amputations in another 3,000. Advertising to warn the public about health concerns saves lives, and we will continue our efforts to warn New Yorkers about diabetes.” said John Kelly.
Berry understands the need for the Health department to get their message across to so many people in need, but he is not too happy that they utilized him in an altered photo. He stated that his main objection over the ad is how it could affect his future in acting. He stated.
“I’ve always wanted my photo in an ad all over the city, but I was hoping it would be for a TV show or something, not — this,”
Berry is looking to get some professional revenge against the Health Department. He is offering to lower his usual acting rate to any soda companies who might want to use his unaltered image in one of their campaigns. Berry said:
“I’ll sing and dance for them and I won’t charge an arm and a leg,”
I wish Cleo Berry luck in his acting career, but I don’ t think getting a soda company to go against an ad aiming to help people, would be the key revenge, Just a thought !