NYC New Member Reception
“Just be the most ‘you’ you can be - so they can see exactly who you are.”
--- Lindsay Nicole Chambers, New Member Reception Guest Speaker
By Tom Miller
Lindsay Nicole Chambers
Lindsay Nicole Chambers was the Guest Speaker for an SRO AEA New Member Reception held on January 23, 2012 in New York City. Ms. Chambers most recently performed the role of Robin, a role which she originated, in the Broadway production of LYSISTRATA JONES. New Members, originally hailing from 18 states, including the District of Columbia, Germany, Australia and Taiwan attended the fun and welcoming event which was hosted by Mark Aldrich, Equity Councillor and Chair of the Eastern Region Membership Education Committee. Equity’s newest Members received informational packets, and raffles were held featuring Equity, Actors Federal Credit Union and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids giveaways.
Ms. Chambers received an enthusiastic welcome from attendees. Many clearly had seen her acclaimed performance in LYSISTRATA JONES. VARIETY called Lindsay “perfect as the librarian geek who communicates through poetry slams” and THEATERMANIA called her performance “consistently hysterical.”
Lindsay attended Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. She told attendees “I missed my graduation to do summer stock at the Maine State Music Theatre.” She received her Equity Card in 2003 doing the National Tour of HAIRSPRAY.
After completing the summer at Maine State, Lindsay moved to NYC. While working three jobs she went to the open call for the National Tour of HAIRSPRAY. “I was non-Equity at the time and I’m not kidding - there were 800 people.” After nine call backs she booked the tour as a Swing. Lindsay then described how challenging it can be to cover both male and female roles. She explained that having a reputation as a good Swing can sometimes be a double edge sword. “Not everyone has the ability to Swing a show - Directors and Choreographers truly appreciate someone who is a good Swing, so it can be tough to break out of that role and be considered for non-Swing work. LYSISTRATA JONES was my breakout from being a Swing.”
Lindsay Nicole Chambers - LYSISTRATA JONES
Lindsay remarked “It’s been an interesting journey”, as her gigs have often come from unexpected sources. “I’d worked with Dan Knechtges in college and he called me three years ago to do an exploratory choreographic workshop in the basement gym of the Judson Church.” That workshop eventually became LYSISTRATA JONES. “It’s interesting how things work out. A girl I did LEGALLY BLONDE with asked me to do an awesome part in a web series. You never know where your next job might come from. People constantly create their own outlets and venues and art with the hope that someone will notice and ultimately I believe people do notice. Sometimes it’s about luck, being in the right place at the right time and having the right color red curly hair. No matter what - keep on keeping on, because you never know when an opportunity will present itself.”
The floor was then opened for a Q&A:
How did you get an Agent? Answer: “I was lucky; I got my first Agent through my University Senior Showcase in NYC. Once I left that Agent – I was on my own for a while but then I started working with a Manager.” It was through this Manager that she met her current Agent. “A lot of people fall through the cracks. It’s hard to get people to see all that you can do – you’re funny and cute but you’re not tall and lanky – they look at you and think – she is not quite this or not quite that. For me, it’s been very helpful having a Manager to advocate on my behalf.”
Did you ever feel like you were completely out of your mind? Answer: “Absolutely, I feel that way several times a day. This is a really hard and competitive profession. I’ve been here for 10 years now, which seems incredibly long and like just a drop in the bucket. Having a good support group is key. If you know that this is what you want to do, you have to just keep at it and take solace in the fact that you know you’re doing the right thing.”
Do you still get nervous or insecure at auditions? Answer: “The insecurity never really goes away; all you can do is be prepared and do your best, and no matter what their response, you can’t take it personally. It feels personal because you put all of your heart and soul into it. But it’s not. What you must realize is that you have to fit into a particular slot and you have no way of knowing what it is that they are looking for. Just be the most ‘you’ you can be - so they can see exactly who you are.”
Lindsay closed by leading the traditional New Member toast written by theatre critic Walter Kerr, who, appropriately enough lent his name to the theatre where she just finished her run of LYSISTRATA JONES. Before she left the dais, Mark Aldrich acknowledged Lindsay for being a real trouper. After she had accepted the invitation to speak at today’s Reception, her friends scheduled her bridal shower for this evening, and she was generous enough to still come and speak. Bravo and congratulations Lindsay, we wish you all the best!
The remainder of the event provided attendees the opportunity to socialize and ask questions about all things Equity. Tom Miller, Equity’s Director of Education & Outreach talked with New Members about Equity’s core functions: Negotiating Contracts & Administrating Contracts. He also led a discussion about Professional Integrity.
Agency Business Representative Calandra Hackney talked with New Members about Agents. “Within the Actor/Agent relationship,” she emphasized that “open communication is key. It is first and foremost a business relationship. Therefore, there should be an atmosphere in which both parties feel that the lines of communication are always open to discuss anything”. Ms. Hackney went on to say, “I always stress that as an Actor you are a business and your Agent works for you. You are the central stakeholder in your business and therefore must approach your career with a business mentality. There should never be a time in the relationship that you feel you cannot discuss your career as a business.”
Vincent Cinelli, from the Equity-League Health Fund explained that the Fund is an entirely separate organization from AEA and that it is jointly administered by Producer representatives and AEA representatives. To qualify for medical/vision coverage, he explained how a Members’ individual weeks of work are reviewed quarterly during the Fund's designated “look back” periods. In other words, four times a year, the Fund will determine and calculate the number of work weeks a Member had worked under an AEA Contract. If a Member worked the required number of weeks to qualify - they will be billed for a small monthly premium and receive coverage for either 6 or 12 months of coverage.
He asked attendees to feel free to contact the Fund with any questions. He also requested that members inform the Fund of a change in address. (Again, as a separate organization, the Fund maintains a separate data base. So if you move, you must inform both AEA and the Fund.) To learn more about the Equity-League Health Fund go to their website at www.equityleague.org.
In addition, Renata Mariana from the Actors Fund of America spoke about the organization as a nonprofit human services organization. The Actors Fund serves more than 12,000 performing arts professionals across the country every year, and hundreds of thousand through online resources. Renata specifically spoke about the Health Insurance Resource Center and the Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic. For more information about the services available through the Actors’ Fund go to their website at www.actorsfund.org.
Mark Aldrich announced that the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, (VITA) will officially open for the 2012 tax season on the first Monday in February. VITA is an IRS sanctioned tax assistance program specializing in performer’s tax returns. Each year, VITA prepares thousands of federal, state and local tax returns for more than 1,800 AEA, AFTRA and SAG members. Mark also instructed attendees to periodically check the AEA website for free Career Workshops and Seminars.
NYC New Member Receptions are held several times a year. The fun, informational gathering was sponsored by the Eastern Region Membership Education Committee. If you were unable to attend the most recent event, the next Reception will be held in the Spring. Watch Equity's website for date and time.
Lindsay Nicole Chambers’ Broadway credits include: LYSISTRATA JONES, HAIRSPRAY and LEGALLY BLONDE. Other credits include: ALL SHOOK UP, DAMN YANKEES and OKLAHOMA! www.LindsayNicoleChambers.com
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