At the beginning of this month, I worked background on the show Lights Out, and got to talking with one of the guys behind the camera, who was happy with my professionalism on set, and decided to give me one of the available AFTRA waivers for the day. For those of you not in the industry, this means that I was counted as being a member of the performer's union called AFTRA for that day of work. Because of this waiver, I am faced with the decision of whether to go ahead and join AFTRA or wait. For research purposes, I attended a talk at Actors Connection given by the heads of the NY Chapter of all three actors' unions: AEA (Actors' Equity Association - stage), AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), and SAG (Screen Actors Guild), and it was very informative.
What the decision really comes down to is whether the large monetary investment upfront will end up being worth it, and also whether committing myself to only working under the jurisdiction of one particular union will pay off in this economy, where there seems to be more non-union than union work available. Big decisions, but I know that having to think through these things will only help me grow.