“We have inadvertently contributed to the systemic exclusion of people of color and people of other marginalized identities from the benefits of union membership.”
by Stephi Wild Posted on Broadway World on Jul. 21, 2021
Actors Equity has announced that it is opening access to its union, meaning that Equity membership is now open to any stage manager or actor who has worked professionally in the United States. The organization has also made it easier for former Equity members to rejoin the union.
For many years, eligibility to join Actors’ Equity Association has been limited to those who are working for an Equity employer – either by direct contract offer or through the Equity Membership Candidate program – or to members of a sibling union.
“But Equity theatres, like all entertainment industry employers, are disproportionately run by white people, and their programming and hiring decisions show that they often hold biases in favor of people from similar demographics,” reads a statement on Equity’s website. “In fact, recent hiring studies demonstrate that Equity contracts are disproportionately offered to white people, and the majority of new members join via a contract.”
“Because our membership rules until now have left access to membership in employers’ hands, they have implicitly created a disproportionately high barrier to access for actors and stage managers of marginalized identities. We have inadvertently contributed to the systemic exclusion of people of color and people of other marginalized identities from the benefits of union membership.”
How Does It Work?
If you are an EMC or a former member, or if you have previously worked in an Equity theater, we may already have the information needed to confirm your eligibility to join Equity. Otherwise, if you have worked professionally as a stage manager or actor in the United States, you will need to provide proof of that work and proof of payment for that work (in the form of a pay stub, W2, 1099, etc.). Your application and a $600 down payment toward the initiation fee, as well as any applicable reinstatement fees, are required by May 1, 2023.
Former members and former applicants to Equity membership can have previous initiation fee payments credited towards the amount owed for joining or rejoining. All members now have three years to pay off their initiation fee.
Open Access is currently in effect until May 1, 2023. In the meantime, Equity will be developing a permanent gateway to membership that addresses racial inequities in accessing membership in the union.
Learn more and being your membership application at https://www.actorsequity.org/join/openaccess/
Categories: Feature Stories