the Big Apple Faces Crew

the Big Apple Faces Crew

Thursday, July 10, 2014

So You Really Want to Be and Actor : Learn The Facts Before Taking The Plunge Into An Acting Career!

So You Really Want to Be and Actor : Learn The Facts Before Taking The Plunge Into An Acting Career!

The number of people who "dream" of being a professional actor are in the millions. With hundreds of thousands yes thats hundreds of thousands of people actively pursuing acting jobs over the course of a given year. The competition is fierce and this is a staggering number considering that there only about 50,000 acting jobs in a year, mostly comprising of small one-day roles. This figure also includes actors who work on cruise lines, theme parks, summer festivals, and other non film and television jobs.

SAG-AFTRA is the nation's largest labor union representing working actors. With 25 branches nationwide, SAG-AFTRA represents over 160,000 performers. Only a small number of actors earn millions of dollars each year, the average income of SAG-AFTRA members is less than $5,000 per year. Most actors find that work is extremely sporadic, and must supplement their incomes by working other jobs. Out of all the SAG-AFTRA 160,000 members, only about 50 might be considered "stars".

Becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA is no easy task to say the least. There are currently only three ways that an actor can join the union:

1) Proof of employment. Employment must be in a principal or speaking role in a SAG-AFTRA film, videotape, television program or commercial. Proof of such employment may be in the form of a signed contract, or original pay stubs.

2) Background Actors (Extras) may join SAG-AFTRA upon proof of employment as a SAG-AFTRA covered background player at full union rates and conditions for a minimum of three work days. Employment must be by a company signed to a SAG-AFTRA Agreement under which the Producer is required to cover background actors. Proof of employment must be in the form of original pay stubs or a payroll printout faxed from the payroll house.

3) Employment Under an Affiliated Performers' Union Performers may join SAG-AFTRA if the applicant is a paid-up member of an affiliated performers' union (ACTRA, AEA, AGMA or AGVA) for a period of one year and has worked and been paid for at least once as a principal performer in that union's jurisdiction.

There is also the issue of costs. To become a SAG-AFTRA member, the current national initiation fee rate as of June 28, 2014 is $3,099.00 plus the first semiannual dues. Each SAG-AFTRA member pays annual base dues of $198.00. In addition members pay 1.575% of all individual earnings under SAG-AFTRA contracts between $1 and $500,000.

Actors work under constant pressure ,facing stress from the difficulty of landing their next gig. Actors work long and irregular hours with all night and weekend work a common part of an actor's life. They may do one show at night and another during the day. They also travel often and are away from home for lengthy periods during many productions. Actors must often tolerate heat from bright studio lights, endure working in all sorts of unfavorable weather and huge egos exist in abundance on film and television sets.

In order to have any decent chance of working on a regular basis, an actor needs to be represented by a talent agent. Finding a legitimate agent to sign you can be a daunting task. A couple of decades ago, a SAG (now SAG-AFTRA) member could send out photos and resumes to a hundred talent agents and get a response from at least several of them. Now a SAG-AFTRA member would be lucky to get a single response after sending out hundreds of photos and resumes every month for a year. Most talent agents sign clients through industry referral.

A-list actor (by the name of George Clooney) once made the following statement to an audience of SAG-AFTRA members, "the pursuit of a professional acting career is filled with frustration, rejection, financial pain, unemployment, and embarrassment. If you can not even slightly be reasonably happy doing any other form of employment, then and only then should you attempt to become an actor!"

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