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"Remember three things in this profession – dream, have faith and practice your craft."

L. Scott Caldwell,
New Member Reception Guest Speaker

By Maggie McCollester
Vice Chair, Western Region Membership Education Committee


L. Scott Caldwell

Tony Award® Winner L. Scott Caldwell welcomed and inspired Equity’s newest Members on October 5th, 2011 at the LA New Member Reception. As the event's guest speaker, Ms. Caldwell shared her journey from being a girl with a dream in a still-segregated Chicago to being a woman with a Tony Award® for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Bertha Holly in JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE.  Today, most people know her for playing Rose on the television show LOST.  

Growing up in Chicago, Ms. Caldwell fell in love with acting while watching movies after school, but remembers not seeing people who looked like her on the screen. Regardless, she nurtured her dream of acting in her high school drama club and later at Northwestern University and Loyola University. While teaching at a performing arts high school her dream of being an actress began to once again "bubble up."

After hearing renowned actress and teacher Uta Hagen speak about acting on a TV talk show, she formed a plan. She would go to New York to audition at the Herbert Berghof Studio where Ms. Hagen taught. By happenstance, while in New York she had the opportunity to audition for the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), a lucky break that nearly didn't happen. She initially was denied the audition because they felt she needed more experience on her resumé. This prompted her to ask, "How do you know what I can do by looking at a piece of paper?" As a result of standing up for herself, she earned an audition and was invited to join both the NEC Acting Company and Ms. Hagen’s acting class. The experience taught her to "always stand up for your talent". It was a difficult decision to leave Chicago and move to NYC, but one that led her to her dream of living the working actor's lifestyle.


LOST co-stars Sam Anderson and L. Scott Caldwell hold Best Lead Performer Awards for BLACKBIRD & A RAISIN IN THE SUN respectively at the LADCC Awards.

Ms. Caldwell had some advice for the new Members. "Remember three things in this profession - dream, have faith and practice your craft. Keep your dream alive; allow yourself to sit and dream of the life you desire. If you want to play Lady Macbeth, practice her at home. Keep the faith and know that there is a community of others like you that you are a part of. It's helpful to realize that most of us within the community have struggled, overcome and persevered; and if the right opportunity doesn’t present itself - create your own vehicle." Ms. Caldwell graciously brought her Tony Award® so the new Members could hold it in their hands and nurture their own dreams.

Equity’s Outside Business Representative Ivan Rivas hosted the festive and informative event and held raffles for swag. In a ceremonious and welcoming fashion, Ms. Caldwell read the celebratory Walter Kerr new Member toast to the group.

Other guest speakers included Tina Hookum of The Actors Fund, a nationwide human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The Fund is a safety net, providing training and employment programs, as well as social and health care services for those who are in need, crisis or transition. For more information about the services available through the Actors’ Fund go to their website at www.actorsfund.org.

Membership Associate Doug Dixon answered questions regarding dues, and reminded the Members that dues can be paid online. 

Business Representative Patrick Lee stressed that there is no such thing as a foolish question. Equity’s Business Reps are always happy to help you get the answers you need. As an example, he explained the term "Favored Nations." The term refers to an individually negotiated clause between a producer and an individual Actor which generally indicates that if other Actors in the show (as specified) receive better terms (as specified) than this individual, then this individual will be entitled to those same terms. (Favored Nations does not mean that everyone in the show is being paid the same.) A Favored Nations clause between a producer and an individual will take the form of a rider to an individual employment contract. (There is no such thing as a Favored Nations Contract.) Further, Patrick explained that a Favored Nations rider can apply to any benefit category listed on your contract. For more information on Favored Nations click here...

Western Councillor Michael Dotson went through the ins and outs of Equity auditions; the role monitors play, and all the fun committees that Members can be involved in. He also urged Members to sign up for e-voting to save paper and postage.

Also in attendance was Western Councillor Michele Lee who shared that she wished she had gotten involved in all that Equity has to offer when she first joined. "I didn't know about all these things. I've learned so much by being involved. Take advantage of it all."

LA New Member Receptions are held twice a year. 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.


L. Scott Caldwells’ Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include: JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE (Tony Award®), PROPOSALS (Helen Hayes Award), A MONTH OF SUNDAYS, HOME and GOING TO ST IVES (OBIE Award). Regional credits include: A RAISIN IN THE SUN (LADCC AWARD), THE CONVERT, DREAMS OF SARAH BREEDLOVE, INTIMATE APPAREL, SLIDE, GLIDE, THE SLIPPERY SLOPE, SORROWS & REJOICING, MACBETH, LANDLOCKED, CIDER HOUSE RULES, THE ODYSSEY, TACO MUNDO, THE BACCHAE and THE PIANO LESSON. Film Credits include: THE LAMP, DANDELION DUST, GRIDIRON GANG, THE FUGITIVE, WAITING TO EXHALE, TWILIGHT MAN, DOWN CAME A BLACKBIRD, MYSTERY ALASKA, DRAGONFLY, DEVIL IN THE BLUE DRESS, THE NET, DUTCH and THE LAST MAN ON PLANET EARTH. IN 1994 she starred in the first film done in a democratic free South Africa, SOWETO GREEN. Television credits include: THE SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN TEENAGER, LOST, SOUTHLAND, CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, QUEENS SUPREME, JUDGING AMY, CITY OF ANGELS, ER and GREY’S ANATOMY. Ms. Caldwell serves on the National Board of the Screen Actors Guild.


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