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AEA President

From the President

Keeping the Faith
By Nick Wyman

December 20, 2013

AEA President Nick Wyman

President Nick Wyman
photo credit:

As I have traveled to all the liaison cities for our centennial parties, I have met many, many members who are also going through a lull in their career -- or whose work history seems more lull than career.  I am impressed and moved by their commitment and the tenacity with which they are keeping the faith with the business and with AEA.  These members do not have my Broadway opportunities -- indeed they may not even have my LORT opportunities as the local LORT theatres frequently persist in auditioning actors in New York for their shows.  Those smaller theatres that do hire local AEA actors frequently only hire one or two Equity actors per show.  The great majority of local acting roles go to non-Equity members.

Now, none of us joined this business because it offered a surefire path to financial security; we did it because of the joy of working together to tell a story, because we love acting or stage managing.  So if all that matters to you is calling a show or getting up onstage, and most of the work (or "work") is non-Equity, why wouldn't you stay non-Equity or even turn in your card and go non-union?

Why?  Because that card is a hallmark.  Having that card means you're a professional actor or stage manager.  You belong to an elite cadre, a tiny percentage of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of wannabe actors.  Your card says, "I value myself.  If you wish to hire me, you'll have to meet certain standards of compensation and working conditions.  I do this for a living."

Yes, yes.  I hear your abashed demurrals:  "Well, I actually don't make my living onstage; I don't even make my entire living as an actor."  That's okay.  That's par for the course. (Re-read my column "Mosaic.")  And yet, I constantly meet actors who are convinced that most other actors work much more than they do.  Maybe you are one such.  You may have had (like me and so many others) only one job in the last year.  Maybe you haven't worked in three years. In five years.  Keep the faith.  You are still a professional actor or stage manager.  The good news about this career with its lottery-like odds of success is that -- hey, you never know -- that career-changing opportunity may be just around the corner.  Keep the faith.

As a professional Equity member, you help the staff, when employers wish to utilize your skills, by forcing those employers to work with AEA staff to create fair wages and working conditions.  Those wages and working conditions help everyone, including non-Equity actors.  Conversely, not joining the union or turning in your union card hurts all workers by giving more leverage to the employer.

Almost all Equity members spend more time not having an AEA job than having one.  Looking for work is our default setting.  Your paid staff and your unpaid elected leaders are working hard to make that work easier to find (by organizing more of it) and worthy of your talents (by negotiating the best possible wages and working conditions.)  You keep looking for work, we'll keep working for you, and we'll both keep the faith.

Contact President Nick Wyman at


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From the President Archives:

To Join or Not to Join? My Rejoinder

Wait ’Til This Year!

Attention Must Be Paid

Beginners, Please

One Voice: 50,058 Strong


Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

One for All, All for One All Over

Springtime for Equity


Keeping the Faith

Substantive Work

At the Big Table

What in the Heck am I Doing?

Telling Our Story

Why I Do Theatre

You Have a Dream

Abundance and Gratitude

When Good Shows Go Bad

Make Your Own Luck

Mentor Up. Mentor Down.

Mentor Up. Mentor Down.

Work Art and "Work"

CashCowasaurus vs. CatchMeasaurus

Can I Get Some Service Here?

Touring 101 or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Touring 102 - A Look at the Business Model of Touring

Exit, Gracefully, a Champion

Happy 100th Birthday

The Five C's

Love and Boundaries

Plenary Panoply

Which Side Are You On?

March 24, 2011
Marching in Madison

March 1, 2011
A Vision for All of Us

February 2, 2011
Three Requests

December 16, 2010
Earn Your "MBA"

November 4, 2010
Deputize Yourself

September 1, 2010
The Fall of the Twin Tiers

July 27, 2010

June 21, 2010
Thank You

Long-time Councillor Nick Wyman is elected the President of Actors' Equity Association

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