Recently the membership of AEA was called apathetic by its own president, Nick Wyman.
After posting this on my Facebook page I received an email pointing out how “…Nick Wyman is already setting up no change happening by making people feel bad about complaining…”
Isn’t the idea of being a part of a union that we are all UNITED? Lazy. Apathetic. Out of touch. If you say it to your brothers and sisters aren’t you also saying it to yourself?
If you know that your union is apathetic and you are its leader what are YOU doing to stir your constituency to action? It would seem that a few blogs, a handful of tweets, and a FB invite were really all it took.
Yes, we the proud members of Equity have been negligent and grossly uninformed for far too long. It is time that we begin educating ourselves. It is time to read and understand our contracts, riders, agreements, and handbooks. If you are in a show, it is not your deputy’s job to feed you the answers. It is your deputy’s job to voice your concerns and to mediate on your behalf. Take ownership. It is not your agent’s job to make sure that you have read your contract. You owe it to yourself. There is some great stuff in there. Free shipping? Housing standards? Travel regulations? Know what you are entitled to and do not hesitate to demand it. No one is advocating for you more than you should be. NO ONE.
Look, Executive Director Mary McColl agrees.
“As your Executive Director, I still think about ways the Union can advocate for you, but now I am also thinking about ways you can advocate for the Union. Creating a strong relationship that goes both ways will help you in your career, will help your brothers and sisters, and will strengthen the industry.
The association is only as strong as you, the members are. The staff can only succeed with your assistance…
…Looking forward, Equity needs you to stand up for yourself, stand up for your brothers and sisters across the country. Stand up for professional theatre.”
Now to continue on the subject of education…
I’m not saying that AEA is being run by the Illuminati and I’m certainly not saying that Blue Ivy is calling the shots. I’m not one for conspiracy theories (although I really did love those NATIONAL TREASURE movies) but a quick visit to Mary McColl’s LinkedIn page will tell you that she was once the Director of Labor Relations for the Broadway League. How does someone with a union busting past end up negotiating contracts on the other side of the table? It’s probably nothing, but again…EDUCATION.
It’s ok to be skeptical. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to demand answers. Don’t let anyone shame you out of speaking up. Not even the Eastern Regional Vice President of Actors’ Equity, Melissa Robinette.
And maybe most importantly, it’s ok to share what you learn. Knowledge is a communicable disease. Pass it on.