Unions play a vital role in the entertainment industry by establishing rates of pay, working conditions, and residuals for actors. Through extensive and persistent negotiations over time, actor’s unions have successfully secured the favourable conditions they enjoy today. When you receive payment on set, it’s a direct result of the hard work and advocacy done by these unions, ultimately benefiting you as an actor.
As a Casting Director, I support having a healthy, talented, and well-rewarded pool of actors to draw from. The people who finance and make the films benefit from that too.
I also support productions that prioritise good working conditions for performers.
In some countries, you have to pass fairly rigorous entry conditions in order to get the benefits. For SAG/AFTRA you must have credits and be a professional actor among other entry requirements. You get significant benefits including health care. See the website for details.
If you are starting out in your career, you might not be ready to join. In Australia, the MEAA membership conditions are low and so are the fees. You can attend Union events and you can become a financial member when you are ready. See their website for details.
Please see the Actors Equity in the UK for their entry conditions.
Ultimately, supporting a union that helps you will help your career. Joining when you can or when you feel ready will be a good choice if you are serious about Acting.
MEAA – Australia – https://www.meaa.org/
SAG AFTRA – USA – Union and Non-Union Work – https://www.sagaftra.org/
EQUITY – UK – https://www.equity.org.uk/