What is an Equity Card and does my child need it?

If you’ve been following our journey, in my last post I talked about how my son was at an open audition from 9:45am-6:30pm, simply because he didn’t have an Equity Card.

After this particular situation, I began researching what an Equity Card is and why we need it on a deeper level.  Here is what I found:

An Equity Card is An Equity card basically means that you are a member of the Actors’ Equity Association.

Why is this important?  Well, there are a couple of reasons.  Let’s start with why this card could be valuable to a Young Actor.  This information is from the Actors Equity website.   So for your young actor, Actors’ Equity is committed to the protection and welfare of young performers working in the theatre. Under most Equity agreements, there are special provisions for juvenile performers (under the age of 16) which provide for proper security, supervision and education while the young performer is rehearsing, performing or on tour in an Equity production.

Equity will:

  • Ensure a safe and sanitary workplace environment for your child
  • Enforce the terms and provisions of your child’s contract
  • Respond to questions you have about your child’s contract

Benefits of an Equity Card: (from the AEA website)

Equity-only auditions via casting call and Equity hotlines

Agency regulations

Member discounts

The Equity News and website

Seminars and special events

Professional name protection

Tax assistance through VITA

Voting privileges

Access to service organizations like The Actors’ Fund, Career Transition for Dancers, the Actors’ Federal Credit Union and the AFL-CIO.

The experience and knowledge of the Equity staff. Equity’s Business Representatives enforce each member’s individual contract provisions and riders. They monitor safety conditions, administer Equity’s agreement with franchised agents and assist members with work-related issues like unemployment and Workers’ Compensation claims.

Equity’s staff is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the Principal, Chorus and Stage Managers’ contract. Members should call the nearest Equity office and speak to a staff person when questions arise.

(and I will include this one) Priority in Professional Theatre Open Calls.

So then the question is…Well, How do I get this for my child and here is where it gets tricky!

Equity allows you to join in one of three ways:

1. Get an Equity contract. The opportunity to join is valid only for the run of the show though (you can’t do a show, and then decide you want to join later). When you are cast in an Equity theatre, you will get a form.

2. The 4 A’s. Be a member of a “sister union” — SAG, AFTRA, or AGMA. Members of these unions can also register for AEA.  Equity honors the ability of an actor in another union who has been a member of that union for one year AND worked a principal job in that union, to join Equity once their year is fulfilled.

3. Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) Program. Stage managers often use this option, but it is available to all. It allows you to work professionally while working toward union membership.   For the complete list of theatres in your state click here to access it.




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