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    Posted October 28, 2009

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Many Equity members have taken advantage of the services of The Actors Fund Work Program (AWP) to find parallel or new careers. Through career counseling, job training and job development services AWP provides new options for union members to find rewarding non-performing work that supports their craft.

"We have found that many actors want to contribute to making a better society-both on and off the stage, says Kathy Schrier, AWP's Director. "When we were approached by The Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) four years ago about helping them staff their testing program-we knew we could provide committed and dedicated candidates who would do a great job."

Testing is an investigative tool that has been used by civil rights organizations for decades to gather evidence of housing discrimination. Testers are assigned to pose as prospective renters or buyers of real estate. When comparably qualified testers are treated differently because of race, national origin, disability or another protected characteristic, this information can be used to corroborate a complaint of discrimination or challenge illegal discrimination in the housing market. For 60 Equity members, work as Fair Housing testers gives them another way to utilize their acting skills, contribute to the well-being of others, and increase their income, and is a perfect example of how AWP helps actors use their unique skills in new ways.

One 20 plus year member of Equity, with a career in stock and LORT, continues to be submitted for work through his agent but also feels tremendously accomplished when working as a Fair Housing tester. This member says, "When I started this work I naively assumed that this big melting-pot city was more progressive than it is. Because of my work as a tester one African-American family received a large monetary settlement; in another case I helped to prove that a family was denied an apartment lease because they had children."

Another member working as a tester has had more than 15 years of steady work on national tours and in regional theater and stock as both an actor and stage manager. She says, "I love the work I do with the FHJC because I love having an income-producing job that uses my skills and training as an actor. I also love the knowledge that I am helping to do what is "right" - it shocks and appalls me to think that there are still people in the world who discriminate against others."

For another Equity member, this work complements his mission as an actor. He says, "As an actor I seek acting work where my character is fighting injustices, and I am is proud to be part of FHJC Testing Program. I believe that making a difference through acting by doing meaningful works like this is, ultimately, every actor's goal. I'm proud that FHJC, The Actors Fund and Equity have given me the opportunity to make a difference through this work."

For more information on The Actors Fund Work Program and The Fund's programs in social services, health care and health insurance resources, emergency assistance and housing, please visit For more information on AWP, contact Kathy Schrier at

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