We’re taking this opportunity to flashback to our SAG-AFTRA National Convention and hear from some who were elected first-time delegates and/or local board members.

Mike Caprio

Arizona-Utah

Mike Caprio

I am an actor and voiceover artist. In 2019, I was elected to serve for the first time as a board member for the Arizona-Utah Local. I currently reside just south of Tucson, Arizona.
Originally from Connecticut, most of my professional work was primarily in the New York metropolitan area. I was fortunate to have an abundance of opportunities on the East Coast. Shortly after my relocation to Arizona, I discovered the Arizona Film and Tax Credit bill had expired. That was over seven years ago, and nothing comparable has been introduced and adapted to our legislation since.

I have always been an individual who likes to be involved in charity and volunteer work. What better way to support my own professional organization than to become an active volunteer with my SAG-AFTRA local? Bringing the film industry to Arizona is one of my goals.

I’ve contacted my friend and state representative to assist the Arizona film industry with the advancement of a new bill. Arizona needs this now — especially with the onset of the COVID-19 disruption during 2020. I hope my fellow local members will get involved and do their part, as we have strength in numbers.

Keith Meriweather

Atlanta

Keith Meriweather

As a longtime stunt performer, I was familiar with that tightness in my chest, the rapid heartbeat and the multitude of thoughts racing through my mind. I was not, however, about to fall off a horse, roll a car, or be set on fire. No, I was at the SAG-AFTRA National Convention, representing my peers for the first time among delegates from all across the country. It was both an honor and a tremendous responsibility.

As I signed in and received my credentials, I could not help but think of all the other delegates attending this convention, and all those who had come before, who helped to shape SAG-AFTRA into the organization that it is today —people with myriad differing thoughts and opinions about how to best serve our membership, but despite the differences, all with a desire to better the lives and careers of all our members.

I feel a great pride at being trusted by my fellow members to represent them and their interests. I hope more of our members will decide to get involved and lend their voices to the discussion.
 

Sia Moody

Chicago

Sia Moody

I’ve been an active member of the union since 1998. SAG-AFTRA has benefited me in innumerable ways throughout my career, and I believe that serving on the board is an opportunity for me to give back. Previously, I served on a number of committees, including the National Commercial Performers Committee and the Central Midwest Regional Code Committee.
I joined the local board because I felt as though my first-hand knowledge and experience could help as we all work together to navigate the challenges we are currently facing due to the ever-changing landscape of the industry.

Also, I desired to help problem-solve and contribute to the conversations. In the process, I’ve become more educated on contracts and the collective bargaining and organizing process. I am also at the forefront of the current challenges and aware of what SAG-AFTRA is doing to protect its members. Armed with this knowledge, I have been able to help educate and inform others.
I highly recommend that other members get involved, stay active, engaged and educate themselves. Not only is being a board member a great opportunity to serve, but there is the opportunity to learn, and knowledge is power. Show up, be inspired and be collaborative! Your career will thank you!

T. David Rutherford - photo by Sheila Ivy Traister

Colorado

T. David Rutherford

The 2019 SAG-AFTRA convention was my first time being around SAG-AFTRA members from outside our local. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with so many different individuals and locals, with the common goal of making our union better for its members. The keynote presenters were first rate. I’m very impressed with our staff and their commitment to serve our members. The member leadership handled tough situations on the floor with professionalism and patience. Though it was challenging wading through a seemingly endless list of resolutions, I am proud to be a SAG-AFTRA member and look forward to the next convention.

Nikki Dixon

Dallas-Fort Worth

Nikki Dixon

After joining the Dallas-Fort Worth Local Board in 2017, I was approached by other board members to run for a convention delegate position in the next election. I had no idea what that entailed, but I knew I wanted to be more involved in my career and the union. I was told that it would be fun and a great networking event, but had no idea how much work it would be. I was excited to get a firsthand look into how committees are formed and how resolutions are presented and passed. I wanted to attend the convention because I feel like union service is a lot like voting. You really shouldn’t complain if you don’t get involved and use your voice.
 

Leanne Natsuyo Teves

Hawaii

Leanne Natsuyo Teves

Meeting in person many wonderful and talented SAG-AFTRA members and the awesome helpful staff of SAG-AFTRA, attending an advance screening of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and being part of the gala that included the American Scene Awards and George Heller Memorial Awards ceremonies was the icing on the cake! The “cake” consisted of the most rewarding opportunity to review before the convention many proposals that many members worked so hard to put together and submit. At the convention, the fast-paced momentum of very rich opportunities continued. Most of the delegates’ time and energy was devoted to voting on a great number of resolutions. These resolutions went through review after being submitted as proposals, and then presented to the delegates for a vote. Such a rewarding experience to represent the Hawaii Local at the convention, knowing that I had a voice through voting for proposals that would move us forward in this industry and as a union. An experience all members should have. I encourage all in the next election cycle (2021) to go out and seek through the nomination and voting process a convention delegate position. It is an excellent opportunity to serve in our wonderful union!
 

A Martinez and Houston-Austin Local 2nd VP Liz R. Graham at the 2019 SAG-AFTRA National Convention

Los Angeles

A Martinez

One of the more delicious secrets of our profession is that if you choose to become an actor, you may very well end up spending significant portions of your life in the company of other actors — that particular slice of humanity that combines an appetite for attention with a reverence for storytelling to such compelling effect. In my experience, there is no cohort of humans more fascinating and consternating and inspiring than actors gathered with a purpose, and feeling this proven yet again was a pleasure writ large at the SAG-AFTRA convention.
It’s easy to forget that all of us, despite the partisan differences that have lingered from our merger, have much more in common than not. And for that saving grace, we should be on our knees in gratitude.

Because the same pressures threatening the future well-being of workers all over the world have fallen hard upon our union, and in a rush. The business that sustains us is changing faster and more radically than ever before, and if we are to hold on to the economic power we’ve forged over the decades, we’re going to have to fight for it. It was a revelation and a call to arms to witness the clarity with which our institutional leadership recognizes this stark fact, and is preparing to meet the challenge.

Kimberly Stump and Local President Eric Wydra

Michigan

Kimberly Stump

Kimberly Stump served as a first-time delegate to the 2019 SAG-AFTRA National Convention. For Kimberly, convention represented a way to get back into union service. She was a member of the Michigan Council then Local Board of legacy SAG and SAG-AFTRA from 2008–2013. After five years of service, Kimberly decided to step back from the board and focus on other areas of life. The satisfaction of serving her union brothers and sisters always remained with her. In 2019, she decided it was time to run for the Michigan Local Board and for convention delegate. Kimberly wanted to give back again, and union service was the perfect vehicle for her. Kimberly left a lasting impression on all those she met, and she worked hard to serve SAG-AFTRA and Michigan. Kimberly saw serving as a first-time delegate as being “an ambassador of goodwill from Michigan.” She met many fellow members from around the country at convention and enjoyed connecting with fellow delegates. Sadly, we lost Kimberly in December 2019. The entire Michi an convention delegation treasures those four days spent with her. Hopefully, she will be an inspiration to members to answer the call to serve and to do it with a smile. 

— by Michigan Local President Eric Wydra

Beatrice De Borg

Nevada

Beatrice De Borg

As a young actress from Switzerland, I immigrated to New York City, became an Equity member, then got cast in a major studio motion picture and joined SAG. This was a pure blessing, because in my native country there is no union that protects actors. Since then, I have enjoyed being a member of SAG-AFTRA, with all its benefits and protections for us entertainers.
A few years ago, I moved to Las Vegas. There is not much filming going on in this beautiful state, and principal roles are very scarce. I ran for office to help change this unfortunate situation and help my fellow local actors to get more principal work. Being on the board of a SAG-AFTRA local gives me a voice, allowing me to work with my fellow board members on a plan to attract more film and TV productions to Nevada.

Last year, I was invited to the SAG-AFTRA National Convention in Los Angeles as a delegate. It was an absolutely amazing event! I enjoyed exchanging ideas and experiences with the leadership, the president and all the delegates. Making a difference by discussing and voting on significant legislation for this important national union and its membership was the highlight!

Gilda James

New England

Gilda James

Twenty-two years ago, with the encouragement of my brother, Harry Thomas, my husband Chris and I joined the union. Union membership has provided better pay, benefits and opportunity. Initially, I paid my dues, sought work and voted. Over time, I was seeing many of the same people making friends and networking.

A few years ago, I moved from southeastern Connecticut to north of Boston. More opportunities have presented themselves and I became more involved in my community and the union.

In my new role as a New England Local board member and delegate, I attended the 2019 SAG-AFTRA convention in Los Angeles last October. What an extraordinary experience! Meeting the SAG-AFTRA leadership along with many celebrities highlighted the trip. There is so much more to union membership than filing claims. You need to get involved.

Jackie Jones

New Mexico

Jackie Jones

Getting involved was a major tenet of my Air Force career. We were always encouraged to serve in the local community and to seek further education. I guess those habits followed me into this next chapter of my life, as well as my new chosen profession. I am honored to be a part of this community, and serving on the local board has not only educated me, but kept me in touch with the amazingly talented and knowledgeable people in the SAG-AFTRA New Mexico community. Being a board member has helped me understand the business side of things, which I can then impart to my fellow local union members. This may not be the most exciting undertaking for every actor, but it is a useful and necessary one, and I am diggin’ it!

Dan Stearns

New Orleans

Dan Stearns

At a Mississippi member meetup in the winter of 2019, I became acquainted with some of the folks hoping to reinvigorate the leadership of the New Orleans Local. I also met our outstanding staff member, Lisha Brock. Eighteen months earlier, I had moved from Chicago to accommodate my wife’s career and hoped that getting involved would allow me to meet members in my new local and get to know the scene.

I agreed to run for delegate because I was — and am — really interested in governance. I wanted to see how the convention worked. I wanted to get into the weeds on policy. I wanted to contribute.

I participated in the drafting of a proposed resolution. I read every other proposed resolution, gave each thoughtful consideration, and formed an opinion. At the convention, I voted my conscience on every one of them. I learned a great deal and feel that I served my union. I also caught up with friends in the industry in Los Angeles and even renewed a couple of friendships among delegates with whom I had worked in the past.

Vanessa Thorpe

New York

Vanessa Thorpe

From the time I landed in Cali to the time I boarded my flight back home, I learned what it really meant to be #UnionStrong. As part of the New York Local, I was prepared as a first-time delegate at the SAG-AFTRA National Convention.

Guess what? I was ready and not ready for what I walked in to — and that’s a good thing. It was hard work, from the process of submitting resolutions, to endorsing them and following the chain that ends in voting for constitutional amendments and new officers. I’d love to say everyone agreed on everything we were tasked to vote on, but, no. We are a vocal group with many opinions and points of view. You could feel the energy pulse through the room, sometimes negative and sometimes it breathed with solidarity. Delegates are a passionate group and we care.
Evoking change. It’s what we do, and our union does it better because we anticipate and are ahead of the curve.

Every time I voted, I felt the weight and impact of our collective voice. If anyone out there also wants to be of service, there’s a seat at the table.

Nicole Izanec

Philadelphia

Nicole Izanec

I got involved as a convention delegate because I wanted to make a difference. I didn’t really even know what that meant at the time, but I was convinced I’d work to do whatever I could. I had an agenda: women’s safety issues on set, tackling non-union background and increased pay for photo doubles. I arrived on opening night and was overwhelmed by the newness and stood dazzled by the new faces and shrimp cocktail. This was only a get-to-know-you event — phew. Tomorrow, we will get to work.

There I was with my voting buzzer at The Beverly Hilton, first convention as a national delegate. I met members from the small locals, mid-sized locals and the New York and L.A. delegations. Next, it was time to vote. I had my notes and read up on the issues I would be voting on. Then, my voting machine didn’t work. Oh, no! Then some of the others’ machines did too, and it was unifying. I was no longer nervous. It worked out, and we did what we came for. It was a roller-coaster immersion into how decisions are made. I laughed, I cried, I learned a lot. Not all of the votes went my way, but I left satisfied.

Portland Local President Michelle Damis with Local Vice President Harold Phillips

Portland

Michelle Damis

In October, I attended my first SAG-AFTRA convention. I was greatly inspired by the thoughtfulness that went into many of the resolutions that we heard on the floor and voted upon. Resolutions from all over the country, from new members, from experienced veterans, all wanting to enhance the SAG-AFTRA member experience in some way. I was thrilled to learn our strategy in the area of commercials is already paying off with a 16% increase in revenue in the first quarter, and this makes me very hopeful for upcoming contract negotiations in other areas.

Overall, the experience was educational, inspirational and confirmed my belief that when we stand together and have a goal, we will have impact. Now back in Portland, I’m eager to find those of you willing to stand with me and our local board to make our area stronger.

Robert Fuentes with fellow delegates at the SAG-AFTRA convention.

Seattle

Robert Fuentes

Unconventional was not an understatement … As secretary for SAG-AFTRA Seattle, I was offered a great opportunity when I was selected as a delegate to the SAG-AFTRA National Convention. As a politically motivated individual (I was elected Washington state delegate for two presidential elections), I was looking forward to participating in the democratic process for our organization.
I am a dual cardholder, I’m a glazier by trade, and I enjoy the debates, the noise and the camaraderie at these types of events. 

Except for a few glitches in the voting process, the organization of the staff and leadership were the glue to keeping it all together and getting through a very ambitious agenda. The breakout sessions were insightful, leaving me wishing for more time to attend more of them. I came back to Seattle exhausted and informed. I look forward to attending more of these in the future!

Ed Moy with fellow members Amy Hill and Janet Dwyer

San Francisco-Northern California

Ed Moy

This past year, I was among the delegates who were fully funded by the union to attend the national convention. Funded delegates get all the perks of paid travel costs, hotel accommodations at The Beverly Hilton and meals covered during the convention. There was a fantastic special gala award night and film screening of Tom Hanks’ A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It was a great opportunity to network, learn and gain insight into the union. All in all, it was a rewarding experience. I met many of our union leaders, including President Gabrielle Carteris and Executive Vice President Rebecca Damon. I also got to chat with Magnum P.I. series regular Amy Hill and other Asian Pacific American actors like Clyde Kusatsu and Rob Schneider, as well as meet other fantastic members from across the country.

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