How I Got My Actors' Equity Card
Actors' Equity Association (“Equity"), founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 50,000 Actors and Stage Managers. Equity seeks to foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans.
Growing up as an aspiring actress, my goal was to join the union.
Something about the Equity card was holy. To me, holding it was a credential that reflected a seriousness of purpose and pride. I wanted to be a part of the largest theater union in the country with a history that goes back over 100 years providing protections for actors. I wanted to be a professional.
It took me 22 years, but I finally received my Actors' Equity card in November of 2017.
Every actor has their own journey. This is mine!
For further reading on actors earning their Equity Cards (including Carol Burnett, Alec Baldwin, Kristin Chenowith, Angela Lansbury, Harvey Fierstein, Chita Rivera and more), click here!
Within months of graduating college, I had a decent resume of professional and educational theatre credits. I worked regionally at Theatre Under The Stars in Houston, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, the Count Basie Theater in New Jersey. I performed in an off-Broadway production in New York City from its earliest stages. I played leads at Texas State University including Marcy Park in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Serena in Legally Blonde, and Lucy in The World According to Snoopy.
I hustled. But I didn't have my Equity card yet.
I joined the Equity Membership Program in 2015 when I performed at Connecticut Rep.
I went to every professional audition in New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. I trekked to open calls, Equity Principal Auditions, Equity Chorus Calls. I submitted my headshot and resume to various casting directors. I signed up for an account on Backstage and Actors Access. I thumbed through the job boards on, Playbill and Broadway World every day. I made it my mission to hit the ground running full force.
It was late in the audition season and I was getting exhausted. Going to EPAs and ECCs, waiting all day in crowded holding rooms only not to get seen, was a bummer. It was starting to take a toll on me physically and emotionally.
Though I was losing steam, I pushed myself and decided to attend an open call for a production at the Fireside Theatre. Open calls are notorious for being frequently unorganized free-for-alls. Because they do not need to follow any Equity rules, open calls are at the discretion of the theatre and its producers. Every call is different.
The audition was held at the former NOLA studios in NYC and was open to all non-equity members, first come first serve. I arrived fairly early, signed up on a list with the monitor and waited my turn.
Little did I know that one audition would change the course of my career.
I landed a role in the ensemble of Phantom, covering Christine Daae, with the Fireside Theatre. The producer also offered me an Equity contract, which would guarantee access to membership into the union. I signed my contract in November of 2017, payed the inition fee, and officially joined Actors’ Equity Association.
I am forever grateful for Ed Flesch and the Fireside Theatre for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Interested in learning how to join Actors’ Equity? Click here for more info!