A California actress took headshots 13 years ago and later found out her likeness was part of breast reduction advertisements, training modules and even an erotic novel.
Christian Demeritt, a Florida native who now lives in California, documented the discovery in a series of TikTok videos last month.
She booked the photographer in 2010 when he came recommended from another fellow actress. Having just earned her theater degree from Florida A&M University, Demeritt needed new headshots.
“She inboxed me his information and said he does really great work,” Demeritt told USA TODAY.
He had her sign a model release form and she paid him $100. But she didn’t read the fine print, she said.
Four years later, someone she knew walked by a Sacramento news stand and saw her on a magazine cover. The doctored image made Demeritt look like Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa painting, she said in a follow-up TikTok video.
“When I first found out, I was shocked,” Demeritt said. “I found it almost unbelievably amusing at that point … I had never even been to California.”
Eventually, the photos from her 2010 photoshoot began to resurface. One of the photos was on a billboard in another country and it was also used in a breast reduction ad.
At least 30 times, people have sent her photos of herself on billboards or in other projects.
Demeritt didn’t want to name the photographer since he did nothing illegal, she told USA TODAY.
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How did this happen?
Demeritt admits she didn’t read the fine print when booking the photographer, allowing him to sell her photos to a stock photo company. Now, those who buy the pictures can legally use them as they please. Her photos have also been used with stories about tops to wear if you have big breasts.
But the project that has most people talking about her photos is a book titled “His BIG Childhood Sweetheart,” published by Afro Romance Books.
The book is part of a series that focuses on interracial relationships, with different women on its book covers.
A representative for Afro Romance Books, the book’s publisher, said the author doesn’t create the covers herself. The spokesperson confirmed that Demeritt’s images are from a stock image website the company paid for.
Demeritt first posted her video on Jan. 6. The publisher said there was a small spike in sales of the book and series on Jan. 8.
Demeritt said she realizes now that selling images to stock photo websites is a standard practice. She didn’t know until it happened to her though.
“This happens often and I’m sure a lot of people don’t know about it,” she said.
Did she make any money from the situation?
Demeritt said the situation has brought in no money for her and she hasn’t heard from the photographer or the book publisher.
She has spent the past decade teaching middle school chorus and drama and stopped in August 2021.
Demeritt is now focusing on acting in southern California. She is months away from graduating with her second master’s degree in acting from the New York Film Academy in Burbank.
Demeritt is also trying to produce a thesis film about her father, who grew up in inner city Miami in the 1960s. The film was partially funded, but she started a GoFundMe at www.tinyurl.com/CDFinePrint so folks can donate to if they want to help.
The fundraiser will likely end at midnight Thursday since filming starts Friday, she said.
Regarding the photos, Demeritt takes responsibility for signing away her photo rights and isn’t as mad as some social media users are.
“I understand that I signed something that I did not completely understand,” she said. “Make sure you read the fine print and don’t act out of desperation.”
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas, and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Saleen_Martin or email her at email@example.com.
Story Credit: usatoday.com