Want To Join An Actor’s Union? Now You Can! | SAG AFTRA & Equity

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Want To Join An Actor’s Union? Now You Can! | SAG AFTRA & Equity

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Even if you are not from an entertainment background, you must have heard about the Actors’ Union. For every performer, the decision of when to join a union is a crucial one. In the long run, it will decide where you go from here in the entertainment industry. Out of the blue? Like I did!

When you become a professional actor, one of the most crucial decisions you will make is whether or not to join a union, such as SAG-AFTRA or Actors’ Equity. It’s hard to know whether you’re in the correct position in your career to make such a move.

But, wait!

If you want to join a legitimate union, knowing the basics about how to do so isn’t enough. It leaves you thinking, How to join an actor’s Union? Or How much do unions cost? Put your feet up, and let me fill you in on the specifics!

Let us begin! Shall we?

What Is An Actors Union? | The SIMPLE Way!

Actors in the film, TV and theater industries sometimes belong to a labor organization called an actors’ Union. So, you want to know: What is an actors’ Union?

A group of employees in a firm or sector has banded together to advocate for better wages, bonuses, and a work environment. Regarding negotiations, producers and entertainment industry executives are the “management” that actors’ unions bargain with within the film and television industries.

You must negotiate a new labor agreement every few years between management and the Union’s elected leaders or staff representatives in a unionized company. Employees often negotiate contracts that stipulate minimum wages, perks, vacation days, and maximum workweek lengths to protect their interests.

Unions representing theatrical performers often hold contract talks with production companies, theater proprietors, and general managers. So that performers may concentrate on their art, blocks deal with the people in charge of the money.

Why Actors’ Union Is Important?

When there weren’t unions to protect performers, producers were free to treat actors any way they saw fit. They could have to labor nonstop without pay or rest breaks. In many ways, working conditions in those days were somewhat unlike slavery.

They can let go if management doesn’t approve of the knot they used on their employees’ shoes. In other words, they might avoid giving them health insurance. The performer was at his employer’s whim and discretion, having reached rock bottom on the creative scale.

Now the conditions in the workplace have greatly improved. Incomes rose. In general, things became better. So it was decided that union membership was a must for every aspiring professional actor, which is a good thing. Actors’ unions are helpful.

How To Join Actors Union? | A Step-By-Step Guide

Some of the most common routes into an actors union are as follows:

1. Land a Union Job:

The most typical approach for actors to become union members is to get a role that falls within the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. The artist receives hired for Union membership under certain conditions that he negotiates with the Union’s representatives.

Background actors must put in at least three days of labor, while those with speaking parts must put in at least a full day. Documentation of the actor’s paid activities, acquired from a payroll service, is then submitted to the local Union office as proof that the actor has fulfilled all criteria. Doing this is the key to entry.

NOTE: Before sending these papers to the Union, it is a good idea to make duplicates for your records and store the originals in a safe place

2. Write Some Original Material:

Becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA or Equity requires sufficient financial resources to develop original content and the ability to employ other union performers. For aspiring producers like yourself, the Union maintains SAGIndie as an adjunct organization to provide crucial tools.

3. Join The Sisterhood:

Unionization gets strongly urged for all professional performers transitioning from other performing arts to cinema. After a one-year waiting period and completing one main Equity act, affiliate union memberships are open to members of other entertainment unions.

What Are The Benefits Of Joining the Actors’ Union?

  • Actors’ unions provide members with a voice to advocate for their professional and personal interests in the workplace and access to training and networking opportunities.
  • Standard perks include financial aid with taxes, mobile phone discounts, and cheaper memberships to casting websites.
  • Actors’ unions not only give members unique seminars and savings on actor-related services but also organize these events at convenient times for their members.
  • Actors can become involved with their Union by voting in union elections. Union contracts, dues hikes, and other policy decisions are put to the membership vote. And thus, elections decide the leadership and direction of a union.
  • SAG-AFTRA and Equity are both member-run organizations. If you want to make a difference for performers in your Union, you may run for a place on a regional board, a local advisory role, or a committee.

The Big Two Actors’ Union | SAG-AFTRA And Equity


Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are the two organizations that make up SAG-AFTRA. The Union represents those who work in film, television, and radio.

Most performers aim to join SAG-AFTRA since membership comes with several perks, including increased pay, health insurance, established safeguards that get rigidly enforced, and retirement savings schemes.

How To Join SAG-AFTRA As An Actor?

SAG-AFTRA offers three different methods to become a member:

  • You could become a SAG member if you are cast in a speaking or major part and employed by a SAG member producer.
  • You will get offered membership after having a minimum membership of one year in a connected performers’ Union, as well as providing evidence of significant employment within the jurisdiction of such Union.
  • Three days are allotted for SAG’s additional work.

How Much Does SAG-AFTRA Cost?

The cost of initiation at the national level is $3,000.00.

The price to become a Chicago initiate is $1800. Relocating to Los Angeles or New York City will incur an additional $1,200 in costs. You may have heard of this kind of charge referred to as a “Step Up” cost.

The cost of membership in Base per year is $227.42.

Worker contributions equal 1.575% of the insured wages, up to a maximum of $750,000.

2. Actors Equity Association (Equity):

Theater professionals in the United States are represented by the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), sometimes called Actors’ Equity or just Equity.

The Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) advocates for its members by negotiating fair working conditions, salaries, and other benefits for the entertainment industry.

How To Join Equity As An Actor?

You can join Equity in one of these three ways:

  • Accept a deal offering Equity.
  • Join one of the other labor unions in the area.
  • Proceed through the process of becoming a candidate for an Equity membership.

How Much Does Equity Cost?

Those interested must pay $1800 to get started.

The Annual dues of Equity at the most fundamental level amount to $176.

Following the Equity contract, working dues amount to 2.5% of gross profits.


Now, You should stop searching, “How to join an actors’ union?”. Timing is critical when it comes to making any professional move. Actors who are union members are required to only appear in films that have signed union agreements, regardless of location. The remainder is all the perks of union membership.

You will only be given one opportunity to find gainful employment as a must-join. Be prepared to pay the initiation fee upfront or arrange a payment plan the next time you schedule a job.

Did we miss out on something? Tell us in the comments!

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About Ben Cable

Actor Ben Cable was featured in over three dozen award-winning movies, music videos, and shorts. Ben is known for his portrayals of socially relevant film topics.
Ben enjoys the artistic integrity of short films. Ben is known for his portrayal of Father in the music video by artist Stitches, I CRY. Ben Cable onĀ IMDb