“THE CROSSOVER FROM NON-UNION TO UNION ACTOR/ARTIST”: PETER MAZZUCCO AND TONY NAPPO SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS

Anyone can call themselves an actor, and the first two questions asked if you do: “What have you done?” or “What have I seen you in?” If someone hasn’t heard of anything you’ve done, then most people may think you’re nothing.

The term ‘professional actor’ is bandied around so much that it has often confused me.

Anyone can call themselves an actor, and the first two questions asked if you do: “What have you done?” or “What have I seen you in?” If someone hasn’t heard of anything you’ve done, then most people may think you’re nothing.

What I have learned about the world of the ‘actor’: one does not have to hold any conservatory or post secondary education to become a member of CAEA (Canadian Actors’ Equity Association) or ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists). If a non-Equity or non ACTRA company contracts and pays non-union individuals to perform, then those actors are technically involved in a ‘paying gig’ and, in that case, are free to call themselves professional if they wish to do so; however, being a member of one of these two labour unions means you are paid union status (which is higher) compared to non-union status.

A quick re-cap on these two terms: CAEA is the membership/labour union to which the professional live theatre actor and stage managers belong to perform in union shows here in Canada.  ACTRA is a Canadian labour union representing performers in English-language media in film, television, radio, and all other recorded media. Some professional artists are members of both and/or perhaps only one. I also understand there are stringent rules regarding credits attained to gain union status but, for the sake of this article’s length, I won’t bother delving further here.

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