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AEA President

From the President

"One Voice: 50,058 Strong"
By Nick Wyman

August 29, 2014

AEA President Nick Wyman

President Nick Wyman
photo credit:

Actors' Equity just broke through the threshold of 50,000 active members — 50,058 is the figure as of this writing. Despite my megalomaniacal plans for world domination (witness our three new Equity buildings), I have not been in a crazed rush to push us over the 50,000 mark — not that I don't want the AFL-CIO secret decoder ring that I've heard Rich Trumka gives union presidents who have 50,000 members. What I want, rather than more members, is more work for the members we have.

Something like 18,000 of our 50,000 members work in a given year. Some have 52 workweeks (or more!) and some have one or two workweeks. Adding more members won't add more workweeks. We are ever on the lookout for more Equity work: guiding nascent theater companies to Equity status, attempting to bring work that has gone non-Equity back to the Equity fold, and finding new areas of opportunity to organize non-union work.

All 50,058 of us have a voice in these efforts. You can call or write or email the staff and/or your elected Councillors and officers. You have an important voice, the only voice, in choosing the elected leaders who will speak for you. All 83 of your elected leaders voice their ideas and their concerns in the course of Council and committee deliberations. Sometimes we disagree — loudly. But with the broadest input possible, we make the best decisions for the greatest number of members; and then, when we speak publicly, we speak with one voice. A union of 50,058 different points of view that speaks as one: This is what gives us the strength of unity when we engage our bargaining partners.

In terms of membership, one of the quirks of Equity is that we don't choose or control who becomes an AEA member: Our employers do. Some other unions have an apprentice and/or journeyman process, some have entrance exams, while others are open to anyone who wishes to pay the initiation fee. Aside from the side-door entrance policy by which members of our sister acting unions can join AEA, our offer of a membership card is contingent upon an employer's offer of a contract.

It's not easy to get that Equity contract when you don't yet have an Equity card. (It's not easy to get an Equity contract when you have an Equity card.) Consequently, members view that card (quite rightly) with pride as an insignia, a symbol of accomplishment, a talisman. Some of our 50,000 "active" members are not actively pursuing stage work, but they keep their card and their active status out of solidarity and pride — pride in their own accomplishment and pride in what our union stands for.

Your staff and your elected leaders are working to justify that pride. We are also working to raise that number of working members from 18,000 to 20,000 — or 25,000. In our work, we speak publicly with one voice — not the voice of the President, not the voice of the 83-member Council, not the voice of the 18,000 working members, but the one voice of the 50,000-member AEA. With a voice that strong, no one needs a decoder ring.

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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