AMTC, Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, is a three-generation family business started in 1982 by industry icon, Millie Lewis and her daughter, Carey Lewis.
In the early 1940s, Millie Lewis was a young widow who had lost her husband in the War. While visiting friends in New York City, a fashion photographer noticed her, struck by her beauty. One modeling job led to the next, and before she knew it, Millie had blossomed into a successful cover girl, even landing a prestigious cosmetic campaign for Dubarry, the Revlon of its day.
After the War, Millie was hired to model at an air show, alongside a real-life war hero and fighter pilot named Jack Lewis. Jack was smitten, and the two hit it off. They eventually married, and Millie moved back to Jack’s hometown of Columbia, S.C. She started a coaching dynasty when she opened her first modeling and finishing school in 1960, mostly to help young girls improve their appearance and confidence. The schools eventually grew into five locations.
Millie became a TV and radio personality, a “Who’s Who” among fashion circles and even pioneered civil rights in the South. Her physical beauty was exceeded only by her beauty of spirit and strength of character. More than 50 feature stories were written about Millie Lewis, and she was even the subject of a comic book based on her life, called Millie the Model. The South’s most famous model maker was indeed ‘the model’s model.’
The idea for AMTC’s first convention began on a fateful day in the early ‘80s, while Millie and daughter Carey Lewis were shepherding students to a convention in New York City. Carey, with the heart and mind of a young entrepreneur, turned to her mother and said, “Mom, we can do this better.”
That first convention was hosted at the Sheraton Hotel in Charleston, S.C., in 1982. The new event hosted 150 performers and 15 agents from New York—small by today’s convention standards, but just the beginning of a 30 year adventure.
As the convention’s reputation spread, other performing arts schools were inspired to join, increasing the number of agents who wanted to attend. Eventually the Convention expanded in 1987 to become the Mid-South Models Convention (MSMC), and in 1992 the convention went national, transforming into AMTC: the American Modeling & Talent Convention.
While the convention’s early years focused mainly on models, increasing numbers of actors, singers, dancers, and comics were attending… and becoming stars. Young unknowns like Megan Fox, Mena Suvari, and Matthew Underwood were early graduates who set the stage for the rising stars of today.
Recognizing its position in career-making and its impact on the entertainment industry, the company renamed itself again. AMTC became Actors, Models, & Talent Competition, signaling another new era. The convention expanded in size and prominence, eventually drawing thousands of performers and families each year.
AMTC’s star power also increased in the panels of agents, managers and VIPs who came looking for fresh talent. Top names in film, television, modeling, and music descended on AMTC’s conventions, now held in Orlando, Florida. AMTC quickly distanced itself from other conventions looking to copy its success.
And yet, there was still a sense something was missing. The company’s growing success in the industry ultimately became hollow for its founder, Carey Lewis. She had accomplished what she’d set out to do. She could look back to that day she told her mother they could “do it better,” and know with confidence it was true. But it wasn’t enough.
In this desert, the true shaping of AMTC began. Carey Lewis, who at the age of 51 saw herself as a burned out CEO, turned her life and her company over to God. She became a committed Christian and the mission of the company changed course, again. In a few short years, one more name change would forever define the company’s core focus.
Throughout the years, the “C” part of AMTC had never quite gelled. Other “C’s,” like “convention,” “conference,” or even “coalition” were offered in addition to “competition.” It turns out the right “C” was finally found in “Christ.” A divine path had been ordered all along, even if no one had recognized it.
“Even more, the deep roots that AMTC grew into fashion and entertainment through its first 24 years would now be used for God’s purposes—to promote His stars into key positions in the most pivotal mission field in the world: media. I was transformed, and so was AMTC—both for such a time as this,” says Carey.
In 2010, AMTC’s official, legal business name became Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, and in 2012 the company officially transitioned to a 501c3 non-profit corporation so that focus could be placed on the ministry aspects of the company.
AMTC’s new purpose: boldly proceed with godly transparency; its renewed mission: greater dedication to performers who are called to be positive role models in the industry, ultimately shining for God.
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