This blog serves to give acting ideas and advice to actors of all ages, especially young ones. This blogs author is J.T. Turner, actor, director, teacher and member of AEA, SAG and AFTRA. I hope you find the posts useful, and please pass along the blog address to anyone you think might benefit from it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Leap

We recently discussed the structure of various acting Unions.Now the bigger and more philosophical question, when do I join? That is a very personal question. Here in the Boston area I often advise younger performers against making the leap too soon. Union sounds great and can be, but keep in mind you are making your chances of working much smaller. If for you acting is an occasional fun hobby, that gives you joy and a sense of accomplishment, you may wish to stay non-Union.If it is however the driving force of your life, if you can handle the rejection that will come from tougher competition, if you are ready to deal not just with the "show" but with the "business" concept of show business, then you may wish to take the plunge. But each of you will have a different spin on what preforming is in your life, and how much of your life do you wish to dedicate to it.

I can tell you that within the past few years 2 non-Union performers asked me for advice on joining. One I told flat out not to do it. I just felt it was too much of a leap for them. They ignored me, went Union, and in three years has worked 2 Union shows. He is frustrated, since when you are in the Union you can ONLY work Union jobs. My other friend asked and I said to do it, as long as you think you can handle the business. She is flourishing as a professional actress.

So it comes down to some harsh questions. Will there be enough work to keep me satisfied as an actor? Keeping in mind that there will certainly be less work, especially away from places with lots of Equity theaters or the chance to film. You will now be more expensive to use, which will make you less appealing to a budget conscious producer. Using film work as an example, I recently had a day of work as a background performer on a major film. There were perhaps 25 of us that were Union, and 300 that were not. So chances of working was great fro Non-Union. Having said that, I got paid three times as much money, and had better food. But keep in mind I paid a fee to go Union, and pay dues regularly. But for me, since I do work often, the decision made sense.

As Aesop would say, "Look before you Leap".

                                                       J.T. Turner, The Actors Sensei