An Actor's Life

Aug 30, 2007

Over the weekend the New York Times Arts and Leisure section profiled five working theater actors on the tough economics of pursuing their passion. One, David Greenspan, spoke for them all when he said, "I don’t know of a period where people, expect for a very lucky few or talented few, who have not had to constantly struggle to make ends meet, and/or subsidize themselves, while having a theater career.â€? Most can't save much money or buy homes; they work temp jobs and collect unemployment. But none mention health care as a worry. That's likely because of Actor's Equity, the 94-year-old stage actors' union, which also provides minimum salaries, work rules, dispute resolution, access to auditions and educational resources, and access to a nonprofit, low-cost credit union. Why should one creative, unpredictable, self-employed career have the benefits of a union but not others? It's just a quirk of history.