Let’s get to the heart of the matter! The SAG-AFTRA Atlanta Branch worked with me amazingly well before, during, and after the merger. I was able to visit the office and get the low-down on how to break down the contracts and negotiate a pay directly with clients as easily and simply as possible.
I must say that the union has been outstanding in support of its actors. The Muriel Moore/Danny Nelson SAG AFTRA Conservatory in Atlanta, GA has been awesome. Bi-weekly contributors have included casting directors Alpha Tyler, George Pierre, and Shay Bentley- Griffin. Actor Clayton Landey facilitated a scene-study workshop that I worked in. There was also a monologue workshop with Della Cole from yourACT studios.
For better quality standards as a union actor, I have improved the acoustics in my recording studio/office with help at East West Coast Audio Body Shop; considering different VO coaches from VOICE 2010 & 2012; updated my marketing skills; attended webinars called The Great Debate (union vs. non-union memberships pros and cons) via VoiceOverXtra; and focused my energies bringing non-union clients to hire union (myself) while speaking personally to future clients via my DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Chamber of Commerce luncheons in my area.
This is hard work. Exactly. If I was booking consistently early in my career as non-union, I will have to refocus and energize marketing and improving consistently as a union talent as well!
The learning curve was steep, but I’ve adjusted well considering the late March merger and re-learning contract negotiations as a union talent. Every talent has to make this decision. I made mine pretty early although I had acted for years. As a VO talent, it was decided early in my career. If I had decided to stay non-union and gain a respectable non-union client base which I was forming at the time, I would have lost those clients if they were not willing to hire VO union actors for their projects.
I remembered what Deborah Richards told me from Creative Studios in Atlanta. You have to decide if you want to be union or non-union early in your career if building a recurring and consistent client base.
Do I remain available as an on-camera actor? You betcha! I’m still honing my skills in drama and singing going back to private coaching, although as an arts educator, I’m limited to projects on weekends and during the summertime. I still continue to teach at the Alliance Theatre on weekends. I’m also considering offering my services as a union session singer in the studios if needed. Work also includes classes in choral conducting with the American Choral Directors Association – ACDA, since I work in choral programs as well. I will attend the national ACDA convention in Dallas, TX in 2013.
Well, the journey continues. It’s been a tough journey, a humbling journey, but a wise journey. I’ve lived in Atlanta, GA since 1988 and will consider the East Coast market as a residence in New York City as well. I prefer Los Angeles, CA; however, my parents are on the East Coast and I need to fly quickly and talk via EST with them.
Do I have regrets? None. Nothing was ever handed to me on a silver platter. Coaches, teachers, actors warned me about this career, and I’m fine with it. However, my work in music, drama, and VO talent / business person remains my focus. I’m not considering other skill sets. This is it! It’s the only career that I know as well. Fortunately, I’ve supported myself solely as an artist / arts educator all of my life.
Education never stops so that I can improve my work and do excellent service with my clients and my students. It’s a new chapter that continues the journey. So, I’m proud to have joined the SAG-AFTRA union and support it.
I would do these jobs for free, but I can’t since I’m in the union. lol
If you are a client reading this blog, please consider paying talent health and retirement benefits along with the regular service quote. Union actors guarantee their work, we’re fast, accurate, and “reasonably priced” and receive first class VIP service with your personal project! Consider hiring union before going non-union. We care about quality and your economic bottom line as well!
Whether union or non-union. Make a wise decision as a talent and don’t look back!