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January 30, 2004

Equity’s Outreach Program Expands with Adjunct Coordinators Enthusiastic Equity Members Are Ready To Reach Out To Students, Actors

Equity’s highly successful Education and Outreach Program is expanding, with the addition of three adjunct coordinators who will present seminars at universities, conferences, and summer programs in the Eastern Region. The new adjunct coordinators have just completed their training in New York City with Equity’s Outreach and Education Coordinator, Rob Roznowski.

“Actors are our prime resource, and we’ve found three wonderful candidates who will help spread a positive, message to college students and other participants,” said Rob. “We were so lucky to find members with unique stories to tell about their entrance and involvement in union life.” Each member lives in a different part of the Eastern Region and has stories and information specifically related to that region.

Meet the Adjuncts!

Albert Christmas will be presenting seminars in the Baltimore-Washington DC area, as well as in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. He has been a proud union member since 1997, when he appeared in the original Broadway cast of RAGTIME. He Received his B.A. from Hampton University and his MFA from New York University.

Albert started acting when he was a child, first in his native Mississippi and later, in Cleveland and Washington, DC. He realized he wanted to be a “serious actor” in his junior year in high school. Besides Broadway, Albert has worked at numerous regional theatres, including the Paper Mill Playhouse, the Folger Theatre, Worcester Foothills Theatre, Crossroads and the Westchester Broadway theatre, in addition to the Kennedy Center, Fords Theatre, and Lincoln Center. He considers himself a triple threat, actor-singer and dancer. He has written, produced and co-stars in a new film, TAIPEI, which will hit the film festival circuit in 2004. “I also just got a job at the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY this March in a play called Pecan Tan. I like to flow between plays, musicals, film, dance and now, producing.”

What does he hope to impart to his students? “I hope to impart the important fact, that there is a place, a resource, that can protect the livelihood of the professional actor. When I was a student, I was not aware of the advantages of having a union. I certainly didn’t understand the importance, or relevance, of Actors’ Equity. As a young actor, I took work that was “less than glamorous,” that ultimately taught me that I was worth much more than what I was being paid.”

What is the most important thing that AEA does for the actor? Albert says “It comes down to making sure that we’re protected: financially (through the Equity bond), safety conditions, as well as receiving other benefits.”

Sara Morsey will conduct Outreach Seminars in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. A native of Louisville, KY, Sara joined Equity in 1988, and has worked at numerous regional theatres, including Horse Cave Theatre, Florida Stage Company, New Harmony Theatre, American Stage Company, and the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. She is an adjunct professor at Santa Fe Community College, in Gainesville, FL, where she teaches in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Sara is also an Associate Artist at the Hippodrome State Theatre.

What are Sara’s goals for the outreach program ? “I’d like to impart a human element, connecting a large organization that students have heard of - Actors’ Equity - but are not familiar with. What I am really interested in is letting them know that there are many routes for actors to follow, to have a professional life in the theatre. Students, who are getting an academic perspective, don’t necessarily know about the current realities of our business. As a working actor, I can bring my experience to them to help them make choices.”

What’s important to Sara about Actors’ Equity? “The Union takes care of all of the business aspects for the actor – the rules, contracts, working conditions, minimums - so that I know that when I go to work, I can do the acting work. You know you are going to be taken care of, in so many ways.” “When I first started my career, I didn’t give much thought to the Union’s benefits, beyond health insurance. I’ve been able to qualify for a pension, and I have friends who I met early on who are now collecting their pensions. It’s a great benefit.”

Sheridan Dye, will be the adjunct outreach coordinator for the Boston area, including Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Upstate New York. Sheridan grew up in Albuquerque, NM, and studied with the New Mexico Ballet Company. She attended Arizona State University and studied acting at HB Studios in New York. After at stint as an EMC – Equity Membership Candidate - she joined Equity in 1990. Her first Equity show was EVITA at the Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville, FL. Among her favorite roles are: Val in A CHORUS LINE, Adelaide in GUYS AND DOLLS, Gladys in THE PAJAMA GAME, and Virtue in ANYTHING GOES.

What does Sheridan wish to convey? “Sometimes when you hear actors talk about Equity rules, or even just Equity, it sounds like you’re listening to a bunch of seven-year olds talk about where babies come from. My goal is to give accurate information and dispel the myths – demystify the Union – and really to explain why it’s worth joining. Why, in fact, we need Actors’ Equity.”

Sheridan said, “Probably the best thing that Equity ever did for me was getting me involved with Career Transition for Dancers. As a dancer, I went for career counseling. I was there for several days, and ended up finding out I had a real passion for lighting design. Other things that Equity has provided for me: I was paid out of the Equity bond when a producer ran into temporary financial problems; health insurance; work rules, such as half-hour, costume cleaning, stage manager calls; and just knowing that you can depend upon the professionalism of your co-workers.

Colleges, universities or other organizations that wish to engage an adjunct should contact Rob Roznowski at 212-869-8530.

Rob Report

During his 6-month tenure as Outreach and Education Coordinator, Rob has spoken to over 1000 students. In the Eastern Region, he toured the “Sunshine State” and spoke at Rollins College, Jacksonville University and Florida State University in Tallahassee. On the west coast he visited UC/Irvine and California Institute of the Arts as well as paying a visit to Equity’s Western Regional office. At Shenandoah University in Virginia and Otterbein College in Ohio, he fielded great discussions about non-union touring.

Recently, Rob has been traveling to across the country to the American College Theatre Festivals held in different regions. He will also appear at the national Festival held at the Kennedy Center.

His suitcase battered, Rob is thrilled to have new adjuncts present the seminar throughout the Eastern Region. "This experimental phase is an important step to ensuring that all of the interested departments can schedule a seminar in a timely manner." With so many qualified applicants, Rob had a tough time choosing three with the right combination of union background, teaching experience and enthusiasm.

Outreach Program Expands with new Adjunct Coordinators: Albert Christmas, Sara Morsey and Sheridan Dye

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