Naomie Christensen: Entertainer's Union

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Entertainer's Union

There are several types of unions for entertainers in the United States of America. Most people think of the Screen Actors Guild. However, there is also the Writers Guild of America, American Guild of Variety Artists, American Federation of Musicians and several more unions are listed on the Actors Source.

It is important to be able to access your career before joining a union. Assessments are based on professional successes. If successfully acting in films, then the Screen Actors Guild is appropriate. If successfully acting in theater, then the Actors Equity Association is appropriate. After recognizing which actors union is better look into the guidelines for joining. Sometimes it is not worthwhile to join a union when you are still mildly famous. The union fees are exorbitant and unless you are able to afford dues, it isn't a good time to join.

SAG's Union Dues, in 2008, are:

Each SAG member pays annual base dues of $116.00. In addition members pay 1.85% of all individual earnings under SAG contracts between $1 and $200,000; and 0.5% of earnings from $200,001 through $500,000; plus 0.25% of earnings from $500,001 to a maximum of $1,000,000.

This information is available on

Often people working as extras want to join the Screen Actors Guild. Then they realize they can work as an extra without joining the union and unions did not open any doors. It may have been an appropriate step; however, it is difficult to say whether or not your career will pick up in the future.

It is often best to wait a few years. Building name recognition and reputation takes a long time. When booking paying jobs that pay the entire union fee, join. Too many people think that joining the union will change their entire career. It doesn't work this way.

A person gets by on independent and nonpaid jobs for a long time, before showing any promise. People living in Right-to-Work States have additional difficulties, because union jobs are infrequent. Competition is over-whelming. Even when working in California and New York, there is added competition when auditioning for casting-calls. Unless your resume, headshot and five minute reel will get your foot in the door, forgo unions.

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