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Behind The Scenes

How to Get Carded: The Actors Equity Association

On the opening night of Hamilton, Betsy Struxness received the coveted Gypsy Robe® from Actor’s Equity Association. It is an honor bestowed upon the ensemble member who has the most Broadway Theatre credits. A traditional ritual is performed by the recipient right before the premiere and it is said to bring luck to the cast and show.

The opportunity to take part in this honor is only available to members of the Actors Equity Association. According to their website,

One of the most important benefits of Equity membership that is often overlooked is the experience and knowledge of the Equity staff. Equity’s Business Representatives enforce each member’s individual contract provisions and riders. They monitor safety conditions, administer Equity’s agreement with franchised agents and assist members with work-related issues like unemployment and Workers’ Compensation claims.

Since its inception in 1913, the Actors Equity Association has been responsible for assuring its members certain rights and privileges over non-Equity actors. Membership brings union representation regarding issues such as negotiating wages, stable working conditions and a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. In addition, many audition calls are Equity-Only with non members or future members allowed only as guests with no guarantee of being seen.

The cards aren’t simply handed out with an application and payment of a fee. Aspiring members may join under the following methods:

  1. Equity Contract: An actor may be eligible to join if under an Equity contract. There are some required stipulations for length of contract prior to membership becoming valid.
  2. Associated Actors and Artistes of America Affiliation : Membership is also available by virtue of prior membership in a performing arts sister union.
  3. Equity Membership Candidate Program (EMC) : This program permits actors and stage managers-in-training to credit theatrical work in an Equity theatre towards eventual membership in Equity. After securing a position at a participating theatre, you may register as a candidate. Eligibility under this program requires a total of 50 weeks of EMC work at participating theatres.

With any job, protection of your rights is important. Actors Equity Association and organizations like it collectively use their strength to have a voice for actors in the workplace. For more information on how to obtain your Actor’s Equity card, click here.


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