Franchising regulations have been established that permit talent agents to represent members for theatrical employment. The regulations provide two forms of standard agency contracts: Exclusive Management and Specific Engagement contracts. They also contain specified commission schedules, prohibiting any commission that exceeds 10% of compensation. Equity members may only sign with franchised agents. Equity staff cannot recommend particular agents to members.

Members: find a database of all Equity Franchised Agents in the Member Portal.

AGENCY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If I'm signed to an Exclusive Management Contract, do I have to pay commission to my agent if he or she had nothing to do with the submission, audition, or negotiation?

If you are signed to an Exclusive Management Contract, you pay commission to the agent on any employment contract entered into during the term of the Exclusive Management Contract, even if you secured your own employment.

If I work with a sub-agent who is moving to another agency, can I move with him or her?

If you are signed to an Exclusive Management Contract, you are signed to the Agency, not to an individual sub-agent. However, there are some conditions that allow you to leave with your sub-agent.

If I'm on a Chorus Contract, do I have to pay commission?

In 1991, Equity and the Agent Community agreed to a written commission agreement (known as the 1991 AEA/NATR Settlement Agreement). There are six conditions that allow the Agent to make a formal written application for Chorus Commission. The Actor has a right to object to the commission and appeal to the Joint Committee.

Do I have to pay commission on sick pay and vacation?

Sick pay and vacation pay are considered salary. Dues, taxes, and commission are deducted from sick pay and vacation pay.

Is there commission on per diems?

There is no commission on the Equity minimum portion of out-of-town expense money or per diem, but the overage is commissionable. For example, if you are on a tour, and you have a rider stating you will receive $1000/ week expense money and the rule book requires $700 per diem, then your per diem commission would be: $1000 minus the $700 Equity minimum per diem = $300 times 10% commission or $30 per week. (If you receive $700 Equity minimum per diem, there would be no commission on per diem.)

How do I terminate my agency contract?

There are three ways to terminate an Exclusive Management contract. All termination notices must be in writing with a copy to Equity.

If you go 90 days without a bona fide offer of employment, then you have the right to terminate the contract. You may not terminate if you are currently employed.

An agent and an actor may at any time agree to terminate the Exclusive Management contract. Often an agent will offer a list of projects for which the actor is responsible to pay commission. These projects are submissions that the agent has already made to a casting director or producer. Equity will usually accept the mutual release, but in no case can the mutual release agreement extend the term of the agency contract.

There are some conditions that allow you to leave with your sub-agent.

How long am I obligated to pay a commission on a minimum chorus employment contract?

If after one year from the first public performance your weekly salary on an Equity Chorus Contract does not exceed the Equity established minimum salary (which includes all required minimum salary increments), an actor may elect whether or not to continue to pay commission.

What's Equity's policy on disclosing agency/client information?

The Agency Department keeps records of all agency contracts filed, the contact information submitted by agent or member, and agent information listed on an information sheet given to actors during the first rehearsal. A member has the right to list any franchised agent or agents. This information is made available upon request to Casting Directors and Producers. Actors are encouraged to keep their agency contact information current and contact the Agency Department with any new information.

Casting Directors or Producers may call either the Agency Department or Membership Department for contact information with up to three names per call. For longer requests, the Casting Director or Producer will be asked to fax or e-mail a list.

How do I file a complaint about an agent?

As an Equity Member, you have the right to make a formal complaint to your Equity Agency Representative. All complaints must be in writing and signed by the Equity Member. Equity Staff will consult with the Agency Committee Chair on how to address your complaint. The franchised agent is mailed a copy of your complaint and asked to address the issue. Equity Staff, the Agency Committee Chair, and Equity Executives try resolve the issue under Rule A - Equity Agency Regulations. The Agency Committee Chair may ask to address your complaint before the Agency Committee.

Are agency oral agreements binding?

While Equity has language in Rule A which states that all contracts must be in writing and all oral agreements are terminable at will by the actor, Equity members must also be aware that oral agreements may be binding under state law. A franchised agent has the right to declare a commission controversy and seek resolution before an arbitrator.

How does an agent become franchised?

An agent sends a request for an Agency Franchise Application to the Agency Department. Some of the requirements include: commercial office space, financial banking information, five letters of recommendation from Equity members, State incorporation documentation, State license, professional resumes, Agency office inspection, and posting of the application notice on the Equity Boards. The Agency Committee Chair reviews the application and makes a recommendation to the regional Board who grants the franchise.

For more information, please contact Business Representative Calandra Hackney at (212) 869-8530 x 310 or agency2@actorsequity.org.