What Is An Actors Union?

By AM Staff

  • Similar to most labor unions, an actor’s union is an organization that represents actors in show business, ensuring actors receive just pay, fair treatment and decent working conditions. Simply put, an actor’s union protects actors against exploitation and mistreatment.

    What Exactly Does An Actor’s Union Do?

    • An actor’s union sets the minimum amount in which an actor must be paid (scale).
    • An actor’s union determines the amount of time an actor is allowed to work each day, and the amount of money an actor is to be paid if the actor has to work longer than that time.
    • An actor’s union sets industry safety and working conditions for actors.
    • An actor’s union sets health care and retirement packages for actors.
    • Broadly, an actor’s union protects the rights, safety, health, careers, and payment of actors.
    • An actor’s union may also help members find work and training opportunities.

    What Is AFTRA? (aftra.org)
    AFTRA is an acronym that stands for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a labor union which represents actors who work in television and radio, as well as recording artists, announcers and newspersons. As with any labor union, AFTRA works to issues such as working conditions, pay rates, health benefits, pensions and other issues concerning the people they represent.

    What is the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG)? (sag.org)
    The Screen Actor’s Guild is the union that primarily represents actors who perform in movies. Members of the Screen Actor’s Guild are issued a membership card, or SAG Card, as proof of membership and are directed to join SAG affiliated agencies, or agencies that have agreed to closely follow the SAG guidelines.
    Most actors join SAG through the Taft-Hartley Act, allowing them to work on a union production to earn their SAG Card.

    What Is The Actor’s Equity Association? (actorsequity.org)
    The Actors’ Equity Association, or Equity for short, is the union that primarily represents actors who perform in theatre. Formed in 1913, Equity is the oldest of all the major unions. It came along at a time when radio, television and film were in their infant stages and theatrical performance was most prominent. Equity was formed in response to the frequent exploitation and mistreatment of actors by Broadway Theater houses in the early part of the 20th century. Its founding helped set the stage for the other actor unions that followed.

    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • Never Apologize When You Make a Mistake During an Audition

    Never Apologize When You Make a Mistake During an Audition Don’t apologize during an audition. Ever. If you stumble over your words or make a mistake, simply correct it. Confidently. (by Carmichael Phillips)…

    Never Do This on Your Acting Résumé!

      Never Do This on Your Acting Résumé! This is a brief “NEVER and WTF Were You Thinking!” list (By Carmichael Phillips) Sometimes there are “Should and Shouldn’t” lists. Sometimes there are “Do…

    5 General Rules for Demo Reels

      5 General Rules for Demo Reels Before you get knee-deep into this endeavor, there are a few general rules you should consider. (By Jim Webb) Are you putting your first demo reel…

    Before You Approach an Agent, Get Your S@#t Together!

    Before You Approach an Agent, Get Your S@#t Together! Before you approach an agent, make sure that you are ready to present yourself as an actor who understands the business and understands what…

    5 Reasons Why Background Acting is a $h*tty Job

    5 Reasons Why Background Acting is a $h*tty Job Let us count the ways… (By Jim Webb) Recently, I listed five benefits to beginning your acting career as a background actor. To be…

  • Ad

  • Look to Acting to Be Your Creative Savior, Not Your Financial Savior

      Look to Acting to Be Your Creative Savior, Not Your Financial Savior Fame and fortune must not be your primary pursuit. They should be the fortuitous byproduct of a larger pursuit (by…

    5 Riddles Every Actor Must Solve

    5 Riddles Every Actor Must Solve So many riddles to solve. So little time. And on it goes… (By Carmichael Phillips) In a normal profession, everything is clear and easy to understand. The…

    Reinvest 50% of Your Cash Back into Your Acting Business

      Reinvest 50% of Your Cash Back into Your Acting Business Of course, each time you repeat this process, your career becomes stronger! Your power becomes stronger. (By Carmichael Phillips) No professional actor…

  • Ad

  • 5 Benefits of Being a Background Actor

    5 Benefits of Being a Background Actor (By Jim Webb) Who the heck would want to be a background actor? The real question is, why would anyone not want to be a background…

    3 Hidden Advantages of Self-taping

      3 Hidden Advantages of Self-taping This new wave of self-taping also offers actors enormous advantages (By Carmichael Phillips) Self-taped auditions are the wave of the future, in part, because they offer casting…

    3 Reasons Why You Should Never Audition Just to Book the Job

      3 Reasons Why You Should Never Audition Just to Book the Job If you don’t book this particular job, so what? You’ve now made fans of the auditors in the room. (By…

    Narrow Your Focus

    Narrow Your Focus One mistake many actors make is having an unfocused strategy. (Jim Webb) If it seems your acting career is all over the place, narrow your focus and concentrate your strategy….

    All Acting and No Play Makes You a Dull Actor

    All Acting and No Play Makes You a Dull Actor Ironically, spending too much time on all things “acting” can actually make an actor worse at acting. (By Carmichael Phillips) You know what…

  • Ad

  • Acting: When is it Time to Quit?

    Acting: When is it Time to Quit? How long is too long to pursue an acting career? (By Carmichael Phillips) How many years should an actor wait for their “big break” before changing…

    How to Audition When You Know the Role Has Already Been Cast

    How to Audition When You Know the Role Has Already Been Cast You still have an opportunity to introduce people to you and your art (By Carmichael Phillips) One of the hardest things…

    The Callback is Not the Time for Experimenting

    The Call-back is Not the Time for Experimenting Why tinker with a winning formula? (By Jim Webb) The callback is not the time to start taking chances. Unless otherwise instructed, try to do…

  • Ad

  • Why Acting Must Be a Need, Not a Want

    Why Acting Must Be a Need, Not a Want If you want to become an actor, then don’t become an actor. It must be a NEED, not a WANT! (by Jim Webb) It’s…

    3 Reasons Why You Should Not Pursue Local Hire Roles

    3 Reasons Why You Should Not Pursue Local Hire Roles Why risk it? It’s probably much safer to get creative about discovering new acting opportunities where you live. (by Tonya Tannenbaum) Having family…

    Fall in Love with Acting, All Over Again!

      Fall in Love with Acting, All Over Again! So, if you’ve lost your love for the craft of acting or lost your love for the struggles associated with being an actor…just remember…

    Top 10 List of Actors Who Found Success Later in Life

    Top 10 List of Actors Who Found Success Later in Life If you feel like you’re too old to begin an acting career, or too old to continue one, just remember one thing:…

    What is an “Objective”?

    What is an “Objective”? Objectives help actors make strong character choices and deliver more interesting performances. (by Tonya Taylor) An “Objective”, in acting, refers to something (or some things) a character wants and…

  • Ad

  • Don’t Focus On How You Say Your Lines. Focus On Why You Say Your Lines

    Don’t Focus On HOW You Say Your Lines. Focus On WHY You Say Your Lines. Once you understand your character’s “why”, you will naturally emphasize words based on that “why” (by Tonya Tannenbaum)…

    7 Basic Facts about Actor Labor Unions

      7 Basic Facts about Actor Labor Unions (By AM Staff) Do you know why SAG merged with AFTRA? Do you know why Actor’s Equity Association was created? Do you know how unions…

    What is a “Casting Director”

      What is a “Casting Director” (by AM Staff) A casting director is the person responsible for finding the talent to fill available acting roles in a film, television show, commercial or play….

  • Ad

  • What are “Sides”?

    What are “Sides? The solution: take one small, but important, piece of the script – called “sides” – and audition actors using only this small piece. (by AM Staff) The term “sides” usually…

    What is a “Callback”?

      What is a “Callback”? (By AM Staff) A callback is an invitation an actor receives to, for a second time, meet with or perform for a casting director in consideration for an…

    What is an “Audition”?

    What is an “Audition” (By AM Staff) An audition is a brief performance meant to demonstrate an actor’s suitability for an acting role that must be cast. Breaking it down: To fill an…

    Embrace Your Age

    Embrace Your Age! Don’t Try Be Young Forever Alright, you perpetual 25-year-olds! You can’t be young forever! Yes, showbusiness has a long history of actors lying about their age. And why not? Hollywood,…

    Find Your Paragon Actor

    Find Your Paragon Actor Don’t Be A Boat Without a Sail (By Jim Webb) It is difficult to achieve any big dream. It is especially difficult to be a successful actor. Consider this:…

    Acting Tip: Wanna get more “looks”?

      Acting Tip: Get More “Looks” From a Photoshoot Wanna get more “looks” during a headshot photoshoot for free? Wear layers and slowly “undress” for the camera. Great headshots are essential for almost…

    What Is A Monologue?

    What Is A Monologue? “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms…

    What is a Headshot Photographer?

    What Is a Headshot Photographer?   Actors need headshots to obtain acting work. Therefore, an actor needs to find a headshot photographer, a photographer who specializes in producing headshots and other photos for…