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Meet Your Local Board: Robert Matthew Cohn

Robert Matthew Cohn

The SAG-AFTRA Portland Local Board is made up of 10 members of our union from various backgrounds. All of them work in the Portland area and are committed to strengthening the union in our region. In this and future newsletters, we’re going to give you the chance to get to know the members of your local board a little better.

How long have you been a SAG-AFTRA member?

I've been a member of SAG since 1998 and AFTRA, which was a separate union at the time, since 1999.

How did you earn your SAG-AFTRA card?

How I joined SAG: I started in the “biz” as a background actor. In those days in Los Angeles, there was enough work to get me on a set almost every day. One day, on a background job in the TV film Houdini, I was pulled aside by an A.D. and taken to the director. The A.D. asked the director if he thought I’d do as a photo double for George Segal, who was playing the part of Houdini's manager. The director looked at me and said, “Sure, have him come in tomorrow for a fitting.” It was a SAG job and garnered me enough SAG chits to provide the eligibility for joining SAG. I might mention that I don't look anything like George Segal, but I am the same size and shape and, at a distance and with proper makeup and the costume, I was able to pass for him when necessary.

What does SAG-AFTRA membership mean to you?

I’m grateful to SAG and AFTRA for being there for me when there were problems with production companies and payments, and for providing opportunities for more lucrative assignments, although the lack of much union work in Portland is a concern.

Why did you decide to serve on the Portland Local Board?

One of the reasons I became a board member is that, having started as a background actor, I am concerned that the provisions for background work in Portland on film and TV don’t provide a decent wage for background actors.

Another reason close to my heart is to ease the procedures for getting low-budget independent films under the union umbrella and thereby increase the amount of union work available for actors in the area.