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Episode #12

The Unions: SAG and AFTRA

Whenever I consult with clients, I am always asked what are the unions and what purpose do they serve?” In this episode, Starstyle® focuses on the unions, SAG and AFTRA.

SAG stands for “Screen Actors Guild” and AFTRA stands for “The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists”. Both unions were established in the 1930’s. AFTRA represents approximately 75,000 members nationwide and SAG represents approximately 90,000 members nationwide. The jurisdiction of AFTRA traditionally has represented radio and television programming and commercials shot on tape, including video and audio tape. SAG has traditionally garnered jurisdiction over anything shot on film. However there are many areas of overlap in these fast paced technological times.

SAG and AFTRA are not employment or placement agencies as many people think. The unions do post broadcast availabilities or casting information but the actual solitication and booking of work is left to the agents. Talent are encouraged to only join the unions after they have had a significant amount of acting on camera experience as once a member of the union an actor may only work with signator producers. In the simplest terms, the unions are for the benefit of the actor, young and old.

Until you are a union member, you are not considered professional in the industry. Whenever in doubt about any union audition or job, contact your local union office. The people are there to serve the members and staff are happy to help.

Cynthia with karen Lipney and Frank DuCharme
Cynthia with Karen Lipney, Assistant Executive Director of AFTRA/SAG,
and Frank DuCharme, Executive Director of AFTRA/SAG


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Last Updated March 16, 1999