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Labor Unions For Actors:
When Is The Right Time To Join?
Interview with Personal Manager Ingrid French Part 13/13

Before we talked about labor unions for actors and when would be the right time to join, she talked to me about she talked to me about the professional actor resume.

Tony: You hear a lot of actors talking about the unions and how important it is for them to get in one, to get their SAG card for example. How important is getting into the unions early in one’s acting career and what is the right time to join in your opinion?

Ingrid: The goal of any working actor is, yes, to eventually be member of a union, but before you do that you need to build up a résumé of acting work. If you are lucky enough to book a union job on your first job and become eligible to join the union and you do join, but have no credits on your résumé, you set yourself up for being compared to other actors in the union who have many more credits and a lot more acting experience than you do on your résumé. That will translate into you having a difficult time getting sent out for auditions for union projects.

Tony: So should it be a priority for a new actor to try and join one of the labor unions for actors as soon as possible after starting an acting career?

Ingrid: My advice is to wait before joining so that you can audition for both union jobs and non-union. You can then join either when you have to because you have worked on a certain number of union projects or when you have more credits and have really gotten out to audition a lot so that a lot of casting directors know you and your work.

Tony: But if you want the really good jobs, you have to be in one of the labor unions for actors though. Correct?

Ingrid: The jobs that are non-union might be lower paying jobs, but at least they allow you the possibility to audition for casting directors, get yourself known to them and also to get experience. Those casting directors are very often the same ones who cast both union and non-union projects, so they are the same people. Also there is a large pool of work out there that you don’t want to be cut off from, because you joined the union too soon.

Tony: What exactly do you mean by that?

Ingrid: To clarify that for those who might not know it, if you are a member of the union, you can audition for union projects only. If on the other hand you are not a member of a union, you can audition and be considered for both union and non-union projects. If you are non-union and you audition for a union project and get selected, they will give you a waiver so that you will be able to work that job. Once you get one waiver, you are eligible to join. Once you have three waivers, you must join the union.

There is such a thing as joining too early for the reasons we mentioned, but for someone who is interested in doing on-camera commercials for example, half if not more of the work is non-union, so if you join too soon, you could be cutting yourself out of a big piece of the opportunities.

End of part 13

In part XII of this interview with Ingrid French, I asked her about what catches her eye on a professional actor resume and other things we need to know. Stay tuned!

Check the menu for additional information about labor unions for actors.

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