I have been known to take a dump on Actors’ Equity Association from time to time, but I am proud as fuck to be a member, whether I’ve paid my dues or not.
I’ve stayed relatively silent in regards to the controversy regarding the 99-Seat Agreement, primarily because I am a New York based personality and this debate seems mainly LA-centric.
Many people have published pieces in favor or against the proposed changes to the 99-Seat Agreement, and they go into great detail with first-hand knowledge of the subject. As you all know, I am only ever on Broadway, so I will not disrespect the actors or producers who are passionate about 99-Seat theatre by speaking about the culture of that environment without adequate experience within it.
However, I will say this: THINK BIG PICTURE.
We spent a lot of time and energy last year rallying the union into changing the state of national touring contracts. We will go into negotiations later this year to evoke that change. The union heard our plea and listened to what was most important to us as a community when it comes to tiered tours. I realize 99-Seat Theatre and Tiered Tours are two completely different animals, but they fall under the banner of the same union — and I don’t think the union will look as strong or be as successful in getting us the higher pay we’ve worked so hard to get on the road, if half our union is denying pay altogether in another area of the field.
How can we be taken seriously asking for more money on one contract, when we’ve eschewed MINIMUM WAGE on another? We are members of Actors’ Equity Association whether we’re nominated for a Tony, in a bus for twelve hours on a Monday, or performing in a new work for a small paying audience with the intention of improving our craft or getting seen.
The less we respect ourselves as actors, the more others will take advantage of us.
Or, we could just pay back all the wages that Equity is trying to enforce to the producer, and write them off as a charitable donation. Or… I don’t know, because I failed math. I’m an actor.