Thursday, April 23, 2015

Actors' Equity Tells Small L.A. Theatres "It's Time To Pay Up ..."

Ilove99 spearheaded the "No" on the
AEA minimum wage campaign
Actors’ Equity – in spite of the views of most of their LA-based members, have imposed a $9 hourly minimum wage for to be paid actors when they secure work in small LA-area theatres (100 seats or less, starting in June 2016). The death of the former 99-seat plan has the entire LA theatre community abuzz about what this bodes for the future of both local LA theatres and LA-based actors who have traditionally and typically seen an opportunity to work in the 99-seat-or-less arena as an opportunity to 1) take on a role that might be counter to their “brand,” 2) to have an opportunity to build their resumes (for new-to-the-business and for “working” actors), 3) to have an opportunity to be seen (also for new-to-the-business and for “working” actors) and, perhaps most importantly, 4) for the opportunity, simply, to work at their craft.

As a talent manager for over 30 years, my process and my perspective on guiding, developing and maintaining a client’s career has never be influenced by what a client would get paid for doing any job; it’s always been rooted in the answer to the question “Is this the right job for this client at this time in his career?”

My series regular clients have always returned to the 99-seat arena whenever time and opportunity allowed; my young and newer-to-the-business clients have always embraced any opportunity to (continue to) do live, local and small theatre, replicating in many ways some of their best experiences from college.

Another business of acting money issue resonates within my recent memory – the introduction of the SAG (now SAG-AFTRA) Ultra Low Budget contract which allows their union members the opportunity to work in small budget, independent (often student, grad student or recent grad student) films) giving these actors (another) platform on which to work, on which to network and on which to build their reels from. All of this for just $100 a day – far less than any actor can live off either, if they’re even lucky enough to get the job.

Actors need to work – and there isn’t, I venture to guess, a single agent or manager out there who doesn’t believe that a great opportunity for a client is worth far more than what they get paid for the job, if they’re paid for it at all.

I also venture to guess that there aren’t any (or many) agents or managers who would take their 10 or 15 percent commission from an actor’s $9 an hour pay check (or from the work in an Ultra Low Budget film, for that matter). I know I wouldn’t. Again, the “added value” of the right opportunity is worth, potentially, far more than that to all of us.

When you impose a minimum must-pay structure on a local, nearly-no-budget small theatre, you impose a process of strangulation that, if it doesn’t put them out of business entirely, will surely curtail the amount of work they can produce. The result will soon be less jobs for actors and less opportunity to be seen, less opportunity to be discovered, less opportunity build their resumes, less opportunity to stretch their acting muscles – and less opportunity for some of the greatest theatre audiences anywhere to see some great performances in wonderfully intimate spaces.

I want my clients to continue to work anywhere and everywhere a great opportunity presents itself. Would I rather they make their livings completely and fully in their chosen profession and get to give up those second and often third jobs they have come to need for the sake of their fiscal fitness? Of course. But I also think that the potential of some being able to earn $9 an hour when performing at a 99-seat venue, will also, most assuredly, cut into the number of opportunities that will exist for everyone..

The talk of the town is focused on this move by AEA – and it should be. At lunch yesterday with my pal Ken Werther, one of the best go-to theatre publicists in LA, we could do little more than bemoan how, once again, the landscape is about to change – and as many of us see it, not for the better.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Emerson College LA Student-Produced Showcase "On the Verge" Boldly Heads for April 16th Performances

Emerson College LA showcase set for 4/16/15

It's actor showcase season in LA and I'm thrilled to let industry pals and Emerson College alum know about our Emerson College Los Angeles student-produced showcase titled On the Verge: Boldly Going Where Many Actors Have Gone Before. Love the title!

This showcase is the final project for the students in "The Business of Acting" class and wraps up their semester in Los Angeles that has included academic classes, internships, professional development opportunities and civic engagement.

It' Thursday night, 4/16/15, at the Odyssey Theatre, in West Los Angeles, with performances at 7:00PM and 9:00PM. There will be a reception following each performance.

Seating is limited and your RSVP is essential. To confirm your (free) seats, please call (213) 761-5079 or e-mail

Hope to see you there!