By Stoney Richards
SAG-AFTRA is a union of actors, broadcasters, journalists and entertainers. Many of us wear a number of hats, but the glue that holds us all together is the word “union.” Why, with companies that have legal departments devoted to always settling for less on the talent side, would you choose to go it alone against your general manager, program director and the company’s legal department? Why would you even consider working non-union? Are you crazy? SAG-AFTRA is devoted to fighting these folks on their own turf. I’ve been employed as an actor for the past 40 years. It’s a tough side of the business to get into, and even tougher to stay employed. Why not use all of the help that’s available to you right here in the union?
As a union, we are all content providers, be it show hosts on the air, an actor promoting a movie, a cast member in a TV series, a documentary narrator or a reporter of a daily story. Your company makes millions. Do you?
The great actor Jimmy Stewart told me he never had a contract with his agent, “It was always a handshake.” Bill Schallert, who I was blessed to work with in a play in Los Angeles, said he always referred to his agent as his “guy.” “He’d do anything I asked,” he once told me over dinner.
Friends, those days are gone forever. But you do have “people.” And they are the people of SAG-AFTRA. Call the local at (412) 281-6767. Brian Lysell is our executive director, and Chelsea Danley Rodgers handles freelance. They respond to phone calls. Begin a relationship with them and with this union. It will pay you back in dollars and sense.