Stated Search


Featured in Alltop



PERFORMANCE: The Actors' Roundtable: "Union Service"

Actors Roundtable
Actors' Roundtable

For 12 weeks, Paden Fallis posed one question each week to a group of professional working actors from a variety of backgrounds in an effort to dig a bit deeper into their artistic working processes.

In this second series, an expanded group of actors explores where their art fits into the larger cultural context.


If the opportunity arose, would you consider being an elected official in either actor’s union—Equity or SAG/AFTRA?

My interest is this: would the work as a union rep reward you in your ability to advocate for your fellow actors’ rights, or would it take you further away from your craft, as you became more invested in the business and politics of acting, and less in the artistic pursuit?

Give it a shot.

- Paden Fallis, Performing Arts Contributing Editor




I think being an advocate for your fellow artist is a role that can be taken on, regardless of whether you have been voted into office or not. As an artist who wants to make their living in the arts, there is always a dichotomy between the business and the artistic. As an actor and freelancer, you are basically CEO of your own company and as sole employee, you need to be your own advocate. It would make sense that if you can advocate for yourself, then you would always advocate for your fellow artists. As competitive as acting can be, I’ve always felt that it is a community that “watches each others’ backs.”




I have no interest in a leadership role or voice in the union. I’ll leave that to the ones who find it stimulating and rewarding. I honestly don’t even really pay attention to the news that happens in our sister unions as maybe I should, but that’s the way I’m wired. I’m grateful to those actors who are representatives and advocate for actors’ rights and job standards. I’m just not one of those people and never will be. I’m an actor through and through and have no interest in delving into any other area.




I’m not sure I would, actually. It’s just not something I would like to concentrate my energies on. I believe in these unions. I believe in the power of unions, as a whole. I also believe that smarter, more knowledgeable, and dedicated members of the union should be the representatives. It’s hard enough to just pay my dues on time, much less read up on the by-laws. 

As far as it being a deterrent to further acting pursuits…I’m not sure. Depends on the commitment, but overall, everything that we do helps our craft. Every choice, every decision, every emotion, every piece of knowledge, helps form our craft. I believe that. And learning from the inner workings of our union will inform our work and affect our lives in some way (good or bad.)

And it’s all a part of the same business, really. So it’s bound to challenge me.




I have never aspired to be a union representative of any kind, except that which my membership demands of me (which is to say, remaining always professional and responsible, as well as loyal to the union and committed to upholding its tenets). For one thing, I didn’t create the union and it has always felt a little strange to me, this notion of hitching oneself to an entire set of ideals and practices when becoming a professional. Don’t get me wrong; I love being a union member, and I love my union. I try to always understand it, its current struggles, and the issues that we are expected to have a voice about come voting time; I try to remain mindful of who the people are that hold offices, and what they’re up to. I think it’s my responsibility as a professional actor and, for me, it’s enough of a commitment to the “business and politics” of acting. I don’t feel compelled to go further into that side of things. Some people are suited to being an elected official and are mutually benefited by it.

I “chose” to pursue my career at the professional level. I didn’t “choose” to help a union thrive. As such, I owe my union certain things, which I am happy to give. Being an elected official is not one of them.




Siho Ellsmore is an actor, writer, and graphic designer currently residing in New York City. A native of Melbourne, Australia, she has appeared in Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and recently co-wrote, produced, and performed in YBW: Yellow Brick Wall Angry White Men played by Two Happy Asian Girls at the NY International Fringe Festival. Siho’s only claim to fame is that she appeared in Neighbours, Australia’s longest-running soap as the “bad girl Cara” in what she now fondly remembers as the “hot tub” episode. (Trust her, it’s not as sordid as it sounds).

Manon Halliburton is a regional theater actress who has worked all over the country. She has also appeared in television shows such as Law and Order and The Sopranos, and recently shot her first film this past year and closed August Osage County at Kansas City Rep to rave reviews. She lives in Kansas City with actor Bob Elliott.

Arian Moayed is a Tony-nominated actor, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Waterwell, and co-director of its drama program at the Professional Performing Arts School. Arian will be directing his first feature film, which he also wrote, in the winter of 2013.

Laurie Okin is a Los Angeles-based actress who has been seen over the years in dozens of national commercials, as well as guest starring on The Office and as a series regular on PBS’s Copshop. She has also appeared in Samantha Who?, My Own Worst Enemy, Friends, and MadTV. Laurie also has an extensive background in the theatre and is a company member at The Road Theater and Rogue Machine Theater.

View all of our Roundtable discussions…
« PERFORMANCE: The Actors' Roundtable: "Naming Names" | Main | PERFORMANCE: The Actors' Roundtable: "Consensus" »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>