3 Ways to Join Actors' Equity Association
Actors' Equity Association, also known as AEA or simply Equity, is the labor union that represents theatre actors (including dancers!) and stage managers in the US. Below are three ways to join the union and get your Equity card!
Through an Equity Contract
Performers may join Equity by virtue of employment under an Equity contract. Depending on the type of contract, you may need to meet a minimum length of employment before your application becomes valid. The Equity website states that “applications for joining Equity are only valid during the term of the contract,” so if you wait until your contract is up, you will no longer be eligible to join.
Through a Sister Union
The Associated Actors and Artistes of America Affiliation, also known as The Four A’s, are sister unions that allow certain reciprocal rights for their members. The unions are:
AEA: Actors’ Equity Association
SAG-AFTRA: Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
AGMA: American Guild of Musical Artists
AGVA: American Guild of Variety Artists
GIAA: Guild of Italian American Actors
AEA also has a reciprocal agreement with Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA), though it is not a part of The Four A’s.
If you are a member of one of the unions listed above, you may be eligible to join Equity. To apply for membership this way, you must have been a member of a sister union for at least a year and be in good standing. The Equity website also states that in order to be eligible, performers must have worked “under the union's jurisdiction on a principal or ‘under-five’ contract or at least three days of extra (‘background’) work.”
Through the Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) Program
The EMC Program allows performers to earn points based on the number of weeks worked in participating Equity theatres. Each week equates to one EMC point, and once you have earned 25 points, you become eligible to join Equity. In order for your membership to be approved, you must not have non-Equity work lined up in the future at the time of your application.
Restrictions for Non-American Performers
There are certain eligibility restrictions for non-American performers when it comes to joining Equity. These restrictions often depend on your current citizenship and immigration status.