#BroadwayByJune | Week 3
Last week, I had my final performance as a non-union performer and my very first performance as an Actor’s Equity Association member. I had known I was coming to Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and getting my Equity card for a few months so, needless to say, I had been looking forward to this moment for quite some time. I created an event in my calendar for my “first day as Equity!!!” and that morning I was dancing around the kitchen with excitement. I had worked so hard the last 5 years to make it to this point and I was ready for this next step in my journey.
On that Saturday night, a very significant chapter of my life began to close as I stepped out on stage as a non-union performer for the last time. The last 5 years as a non-union performer taught me the most valuable lessons about this industry, they introduced me to some of the most important people in my life, and they prepared me to take on everything headed my way in the future.
We had a great show and there was something extra special knowing that the next time this moment came around, I would be taking the stage as an AEA member.
Monday afternoon rolled around and the moment finally arrived. I made my way to the theatre just like every other performance. As I got ready for the show, people came in and congratulated me. Some of the girls sang “Happy Equity card day to you,” to the tune of Happy Birthday, and someone even made me an “*” out of gaff tape and put it next to my name at my dressing room station (denoting me as an equity member). The cast went out of their way to make it a very special day. I felt (and still feel!) so grateful to enter this new chapter in my career surrounded by such incredible people.
“Places” were called and it was time: my Equity debut!
The lights came up, the orchestra began, I stepped out on stage, and you know what? It felt exactly the same as any other show. Don’t get me wrong, It was another great show, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be on stage living my dream like I had been doing for the last 2 weeks. But, simply adding the title of Equity to my name made no difference in my work or experience within the show.
This was a little weird for me. I have held the idea of being an AEA member on a pedestal for so long. It was a huge step in my career and I thought it would feel so monumental, and it just didn’t. This bummed me out at first, but, as I thought about it, I realized what this performance really meant to me.
This performance holds great weight and significance in my life, not because I was suddenly a different human and artist, but because of the work and sacrifice it represents in getting to this point, and the possibilities it holds for the future. The possibility of career growth, of financial stability, of entering audition season and having a sense of control over my schedule. It may not have felt different in that moment, but understanding the amount of work that went into arriving at that pivotal moment, and understanding the possibilities that exists in my life and career because of it, makes it a truly life-changing day.
We like to think (myself included) that arriving to a destination or adding a title to our name or resume will all of a sudden transform our world and who we are. But, as this moment taught me, that is simply not true. I was the same person and artist going into this moment as I was coming out of it; and I am still that same person right now! It’s truly all about the journey and how we navigate it. For me, having my Equity card is about the possibility of a lifestyle shift. I have no idea what the road ahead looks like and I recognize that nothing is guaranteed to me because of a card from AEA, but, now that I have it, I will continue working just as hard as I did to get it, and I will stay grateful that I am lucky enough to be living my dream day in and day out.
Anna Terese Stone
Editor: Brian Crawford Scott