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Happy Centennial, Equity!

May 26, 2013

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Actors’ Equity Association, and to those of you who live in New York (thanks to the recent proclamation by Mayor Bloomberg)- Happy Actors’ Equity Day!

Actors’ Equity was founded on May 26th, 1913. It was created by 112 professional theater professionals to better the lives of working actors. Before AEA was born- actors were being stranded after shows closed on the road, they had to pay for their own costumes, and they were being mistreated as artists. Actors’ Equity was created to fight for the working actor. However, it wasn’t always an easy journey. Equity struggled for several years after it was created to be recognized. Very few producers wanted to use the union in the beginning. Francis Wilson, the founding president, asked a producer when they would begin using an Equity contract- the producer’s answer was “When you make me.” Only after Broadway went dark in 1919, did producers finally sign a binding, five-year agreement.

Actors’ Equity has been there through the years- standing against segregation in the 1940’s, helping to gain public funding for the arts in the 1960’s, and fighting against the destruction of historic Broadway theaters. Today, the union continues to show support for the needs of others- such as joining the battle to fight AIDS (Equity Fights Aids), and joining the Broadway Green Alliance to reduce our ecological footprint.

I have been a member of the Actors’ Equity Association since 2007. It’s amazing to be part of something so big. Some of my favorite role models are members of the same union, such as Carol Burnett and Alec Baldwin. It makes me feel like one small piece of a gigantic puzzle.

I joined Equity after being cast in my first Broadway production. I like being an Equity member, because there is a sense of security. I know that if I’m injured or having a problem during a production- they have my back. There are also other perks, such as free workshops, VITA (tax prep), access to health care, etc.

I am definitely digging the new PLASTIC Equity cards! No longer will we have to carry around torn, crinkled, paper cards. It seems more legit to have a plastic card, though it seems weird after 6 years of paper ones. I’m sure I’ll get used to it (teehee). I also recently attended the open house for the new Audition Center. It is very nice and sophisticated. The audition rooms look bright and inviting, and there are benches everywhere! There is also a station to staple and assemble your headshot and resume, as well as drinking fountains, and beautiful dressing rooms. I had a bit of a giddy moment when I saw the mirrors in the women’s dressing room. They have lights on the sides, and would make any actress feel like a star.

I hope AEA continues to offer more workshops for their members. I recently went to a workshop called “Voice For The Working Actor: An Introduction To Fitzmaurice Voicework” by Lisa Pelikan and enjoyed it immensely. I would love for the union to offer more free opportunities for their members.

I am proud to be an Equity Member. Happy anniversary to Equity, and may there be many more years to come.

The Growing Artist Signature

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