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Conversations are inspiring Career Retrospectives with preeminent actors who explore the process and profession with an audience of fellow artists. Conversations focus on personal experiences and artistic influences that inform and shape careers; discuss current and past projects; share valuable insights into the craft and industry; and preserve creative legacies.

Presented in Los Angeles, New York and cities nationwide.

  1. Conversations with Audra McDonald (2017)

    Conversations with Audra McDonald (2017)

    A career Q&A with Audra McDonald, SAG Award Nominee for Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill.  Moderated by Richard Ridge of's "Backstage with Richard Ridge." 

    Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actress. Recipient of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015. In addition to her Tony-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, she has appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, Marie Christine (Tony nomination), Henry IV,110 in the Shade (Tony nomination), and Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. The Juilliard-trained soprano’s opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera. On television, she was seen by millions as the Mother Abbess in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! and played Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s Private Practice. She won an Emmy Award for her role as host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center and has received nominations for Wit, A Raisin in the Sun, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. On film, she recently appeared opposite Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash and plays the Garderobe in Disney’s upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast. An exclusive recording artist for Nonesuch Records, she has released five solo albums for the label. McDonald also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. Of all her many roles, her favorites are the ones performed offstage: passionate advocate for equal rights and homeless youth, wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother to her growing family.

  2. Conversations with Bobby Cannavale (2018)

    Conversations with Bobby Cannavale (2018)

    Career Q&A with Bobby Cannavale, currently starring in The Lifespan of a Fact moderated by Broadway World's Richard Ridge of "Backstage with Richard Ridge!"

    New York theatre credits include The Hairy Ape (Drama Desk nomination), The Big Knife, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Motherf**ker With the Hat (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award), Mauritius (Tony nomination), Hurlyburly, F**king A and The Gingerbread House. He is a member of Labyrinth Theater Company. Cannavale’s film credits include I, Tonya; Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; Ferdinand; Daddy’s Home; Ant-Man; Spy; Danny Collins; Annie; Chef; Blue Jasmine; Win Win; The Station Agent; Fast Food Nation; and Romance and Cigarettes. He appears in the upcoming films The Irishman, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Boundaries and Going Places. TV credits include “Mr. Robot,” “Master of None,” “Vinyl,” “Boardwalk Empire” (Emmy Award, SAG nomination), “Nurse Jackie” (two Emmy nominations, SAG nomination) and “Will and Grace” (Emmy Award). Cannavale will soon appear on TV in “Homecoming” and “Angie Tribeca.”

  3. Conversations with William H. Macy (2017)

    Conversations with William H. Macy (2017)

    Career retrospective with William H. Macy.  Moderated by Jenelle Riley, Variety.

    William H. Macy is an Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, an Emmy and SAG Award winning actor, and a writer in theater, film and television. He currently stars in the SHOWTIME series SHAMELESS, for which he was nominated twice for an ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series’ Emmy Award and received a SAG Award nomination. Macy’s film credits include SEABISCUIT, THE COOLER, MAGNOLIA, BOOGIE NIGHTS, JURASSIC PARK III, FARGO, TNT’s DOOR TO DOOR, WILD HOGS and ROOM. William H. Macy made his feature directorial debut with RUDDERLESS, the closing film at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. THE LAYOVER, his second film, was released in 2016. His third film, KRYSTAL, is set to release in 2016/2017. In addition, Macy is a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company.

  4. Conversations with Betty Buckley (2014)

    Conversations with Betty Buckley (2014)

    Career Q&A with Betty Buckley.  Moderated by Richard Ridge, Broadway World.

    Betty Buckley, who has been called “The Voice of Broadway,” is one of theater’s most respected and legendary leading ladies.  She is an actress/singer whose career spans theater, film, television and concert halls around the world.  She most recently was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame for 2012.

    Betty Buckley won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS. She received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a musical for her performance as Hesione in TRIUMPH OF LOVE, and an Olivier Award nomination for her critically acclaimed interpretation of Norma Desmond in the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s SUNSET BOULEVARD, which she repeated to more rave reviews on Broadway.

    Her other Broadway credits include 1776, PIPPIN, SONG AND DANCE, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD and CARRIE. Off-Broadway credits include the world premiere of Horton Foote’s THE OLD FRIENDS for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination in 2014, WHITE’S LIES, Lincoln Center’s ELEGIES, the original NYSF production of EDWIN DROOD, THE EROS TRILOGY, JUNO SWANS and GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD.  Regional credits include THE PERFECTIONSIT, GYPSY, THREEPENNY OPERA, CAMINO REAL, BUFFALO GAL, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE and THE OLD FRIENDS.  She starred in the London production of DEAR WORLD in 2013 and PROMISES, PROMISES.                                                                  

    She co-starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s THE HAPPENING released in June 2008.  Other films include her debut in Brian de Palma’s screen version of Stephen King’s CARRIE, Bruce Beresford’s TENDER MERCIES, Roman Polanski’s FRANTIC, Woody Allen’s ANOTHER WOMAN and Lawrence Kasden’s WYATT EARP.

    On television, Buckley appeared in THE PACIFIC for HBO and on the Kennedy Center Honors in 2006 and 1983.  She also starred for three seasons in the HBO series OZ and as Abby Bradford in the hit series EIGHT IS ENOUGH. She has appeared as a guest star in numerous television series, miniseries and films for television including EVERGREEN, ROSES FOR THE RICH, the CBS series WITHOUT A TRACE, LAW & ORDER: SVU for NBC, ABC Family’s PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and HBO’s GETTING ON.

    She received her second Grammy Nomination for the audio book THE DIARIES OF ADAM AND EVE.

    For over forty years Ms. Buckley has been a teacher of scene study and song interpretation, giving workshops in Manhattan and various universities and performing arts conservatories around the country.  She has been a faculty member in the theatre department of the University of Texas at Arlington, the T. Schreiber Studio in New York City and currently teaches at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX.

    In April of 2009, Ms. Buckley received the Texas Medal of Arts Award for Theater and was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2007.

  5. Conversations with Michael K. Williams (2017)

    Conversations with Michael K. Williams (2017)

    Career Q&A with Michael K. Williams.  Moderated by Jim Halterman, TV Guide Magazine.

    Michael Kenneth Williams is one of this generation’s most respected and acclaimed actors. By bringing complicated and charismatic characters to life - often with surprising tenderness - Williams has established himself as a gifted and versatile performer with a unique ability to mesmerize audiences.

    Williams is best known for his remarkable work on The Wire, which ran for five seasons on HBO. The wit and humor that Williams brought to Omar - the whistle-happy, profanity-averse, drug dealer-robbing stickup man - earned him high praise and made Omar one of television’s most memorable characters.

    Williams co-starred in HBO’s critically acclaimed series Boardwalk Empire. In the Martin Scorsese- and Terence Winter-produced show, Williams played Chalky White, a 1920s bootlegger and impeccably suited veritable mayor of Atlantic City’s African-American community. In 2012, Boardwalk Empire won a Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

    Giving back to the community plays an important role in Williams’s off-camera life. He is working to launch Making Kids Win, a charitable organization whose primary objective is to build community centers in urban neighborhoods that are in need of safe spaces for children to learn and play. Michael currently serves as the ACLU's ambassador of Smart Justice.

    Williams also executive produces and serves as the investigative journalist for Black Market, a documentary program that exposes and comments on illegal markets throughout the world with a focus on the people involved and connecting with them on a human level. Black Market is a flagship show for Vice’s newly launched network VICELAND.

  6. Conversations at Home with Carey Mulligan (2021)

    Conversations at Home with Carey Mulligan (2021)

    A career retrospective with Carey Mulligan. Moderated by Joe Utichi, AwardsLine Magazine.

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    SAG-AFTRA Foundation COVID-19 Fund: The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is currently operating a COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Fund is available to SAG-AFTRA members who are in an emergency financial crisis related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to cover basic expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, medical bills and other essential needs.

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SAG-AFTRA & Music Artist Groups Tell FTC That “Onerous” Contracts Are “Rampant” In Entertainment, Recording & News Industries

SAG-AFTRA and a coalition of music artist groups have submitted public comments to the Federal Trade Commission asserting that “onerous” contract and employment terms are “rampant” in the entertainment, recording and news industries. These “unconscionable” contracts, they say, not only “harm fair competition and restrict workers from building their careers,” but also “disproportionately” harm underrepresented groups, especially in the music business.

“Entertainment and broadcast employers take advantage of workers every single day,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director. “It is time to put an end to one-sided contract terms that restrict job opportunities, earnings and worker mobility. We won’t stand for unfair treatment and we will always fight to ensure entertainment and broadcast workers get a fair shake. That’s why we are filing these comments and working to pass legislation like the Fair Act in California.”

Related Story

SAG-AFTRA & Music Coalitions Urge Members To Support FAIR Act’s Modernization Of State Law Governing Artists’ Personal Service Contracts

According to the coalition’s FTC filing:


“Overly broad exclusivity clauses and unilateral options, exercisable in the employer’s sole discretion, allow employers to unreasonably restrain actors’ ability to work. These restrictive covenants are increasingly oppressive and keep actors off the market and unable to work for excessively long periods of time. They restrict actors’ abilities to work, compete, and build their careers. For all practical purposes these pernicious provisions are non-negotiable and unmodified for everyone but a handful of the biggest stars.

“Underrepresented groups will be disproportionately disadvantaged by this practice. Being held off the market – and therefore off-screen – for years, during the period when they would statistically have the most opportunities, will destroy earning potential and career building. It prevents opportunities and limits exposure at the most critical juncture in their careers.

“These restrictive covenants lack a pro-competitive justification in today’s market. There is no market harm if an actor works on another series, commercial, or movie during hiatus periods. There is market harm by unilaterally and unreasonably restricting work for actors, to the sole benefit of increasingly powerful, vertically integrated, global entertainment conglomerates.”

The comments, filed jointly with the Music Artists Coalition and Black Music Action Coalition, say:

“Unconscionably long contract terms are rampant in the industry, aided by an exemption to California’s Seven Year Rule, which keeps musicians and actors from accessing the Rule’s protections. The Rule, which prevents any personal service contract from being enforced beyond seven years, is one reason California is a haven of worker mobility that helps it become one of the great economic powers in the world. Musicians are singled out – to the economy and the publics’ detriment – as this anti-competitive law and Major Label practices deflate the movement of labor and stifle creativity in the workforce.

“Musicians sign record contracts for a chance at success in music. But for most musicians, record contracts are not a means to success but rather a mechanism Major Labels use to exploit their labor. While Major Labels contend that only 1 out of 10 artists recoup on their advances (sums given to artists before a record is released that are entirely recouped by the label before an artist is paid any royalties), this claim is immaterial: Major Labels do not provide many artists with access to the market.

“Musicians are routinely denied the chance to complete their contractual obligations and are thus severely or entirely restricted in the movement of their services and economic opportunities. One way artists are rebuffed is when labels ‘shelve’ an album, refusing to release a record entirely. Another is by releasing songs as ‘singles’ instead of on albums. In both instances, the label prolongs the term of the contract because record contracts for a specific number of albums, as opposed to a term of years or a total number of songs, and in California, because the Seven Year Rule excludes musicians.

“Three multinational, foreign-owned, multibillion dollar companies (collectively, the ‘Major Labels’) control over 65% of the market across the world. While artists today make pennies on the dollar compared to past generations, Major Labels have launched massive IPOs, riding skyrocketing margins, huge stakes in the top streaming companies, and ownership of their own publishing companies to huge profits and executive compensation. These and other historic predatory practices are still rampant today, where Major Label record deals ensnare young artists, many of whom are from underserved communities and are people of color.

“The restrictive and anti-competitive practices of the recording industry belong in a bygone era. An exemption like that in California’s Seven Year Rule gives the labels safe harbor to mistreat musicians. Our international allies have taken notice: the U.K., the third-largest music market by revenue in the world, has engaged in an anti-competitive investigation into the practices of the recording industry. Restricting the free movement of labor and services, and clamping down on creativity generally, is antithetical to American ideals and norms. The record labels already have a leg up–they do not need or deserve to have the law and leaders look the other way in the face of unfair contracting.”

Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, co-chair of the Black Music Action Coalition, said: “Artists should not be the only people who are excluded from California’s protection against contracts longer than seven years. As the world, this country and this industry evolves, so should the laws that govern it. Most artist have never been respected or treated as partners, just products, which makes it easier to perpetuate this unjust practice. Artist aren’t looking for more, just the same protection as everyone else in the state.”

As for broadcast news, SAG-AFTRA says in its comments:

“[We have] been addressing the issue of non-compete agreements in employment agreements for television and radio broadcasters for well-over 25 years. These contract provisions have long been a staple of employment agreements in the news and broadcast industry. These agreements, once limited to very highly compensated, high-profile employees who resigned their employment, have over the past two decades become ‘standard boilerplate’/’non-negotiable’ for employees, regardless of pay, who appear in front of a camera, behind a microphone, work behind the scenes and are enforced even in cases of termination or lay-off.

“Employees in the news and broadcast industry are under a more traditional staff employment structure. Non-compete agreements have the effect of limiting or restraining employee mobility and individual worker entrepreneurship. They artificially restrict an individual’s ability to market his/her talents, services and skills in a free market resulting in wage and salary stagnation.

“We have seen the unfortunate impact of non-competes and restrictive covenants for decades. We regularly speak to young professionals starting their career in TV or radio making as little as $11.00 / hour who have had to pass up opportunities to earn more money because of these restrictive covenants. Others have been forced to leave the industry rather than leave a city where they have started their family. And, others who have been asked to pay their employer thousands of dollars in liquidated damages to leave a job to get out from under a restrictive covenant.

“It is often argued that many non-competes provisions, based on the applicable state law and individual circumstances, are not even enforceable. However, employers include them in employment contracts knowing that they will not have to enforce them in court. Since the employees must bear the unreasonable burden of knowing the law, hiring an attorney, and prohibiting enforcement of these restrictive provisions, employers can rest assured that they will go unchallenged.

“In response to the employers’ consistent use of these provisions in the broadcast industry, SAG-AFTRA has proposed limitations on these agreements through collective bargaining, however, employers continue to resist any limitations on these agreements. In fact, employers have only worked to strengthen the language of their non-compete agreements and add other restrictive covenants to employment agreements to avoid existing legislative restrictions on non-compete agreements. In non-union employment, the employee has no recourse against their being included.”

The union says that it’s “been successful in promoting legislation limiting their enforcement in the broadcast industry in several states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Washington and the District of Columbia.”

According to SAG-AFTRA:

“An issue in employment agreements for radio and television broadcast employees is the use by employers of personal service agreements that purport to be of a definite term inasmuch as they bind the employee for a number of years but also permit the employer to terminate the agreement at any time and with little or no notice to the employee. These contracts thoroughly restrict the mobility of employees for extended periods of time, free the employer from the normal allocations of risk inherent in a definite term contract, and effectively tie an employee to a particular employer for as long as the employer determines that the original bargain remains in its favor without any concomitant obligations on the employer.

“Under normal circumstances, when entering into a long term contractual employment relationship, both parties — the employer and the employee — incur duties and rights with respect to the other, and in so doing assume some measure of risk that they will not realize the benefit of their bargain over the defined period. The employee agrees to bind herself to the employer and to guarantee the employer a price for her services that she thinks, at the time of the contract’s formation, will be favorable to her over the period of the contract. The employer, for its part, bargains to reliably obtain those services over the period of time for a price that it believes to be in its long term advantage. In this dynamic, there is mutuality: both parties assume some measure of risk that they will not realize the benefit of their bargains over the period of time for which they have contracted.

“Contracts that bind employees to employers for a definite term, but allow the employer to maintain an essentially at-will relationship with the employee, distort this mutuality. The employee remains bound to her employer irrespective of whether her deal is working out for her. Meanwhile, her employer is free to move on from her when it determines that the contract no longer benefits it.

“This freedom to terminate the contract gives the employer immense power over the employee. The employee is fixed in place by the definite term nature of the contract, and she is restricted from accepting other employment within the industry through a noncompete clause. By contrast, the employer is free from lasting obligation to the employee, and it can survey the field for lower cost alternatives to the employee, whom it can plug in to her position at will.

“By exercising this power, the employer is able to put downward pressure on wages. Not only is the employer actually able to replace a higher-paid employee with a lower-paid one with little transaction cost, but the ease of making such a change can have the effect of making incumbent employees more willing to either forego increases or take lower wages themselves just to remain in the position they already occupy.”

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SAG-AFTRA and NPR Reach Agreement on Successor Contract Covering 521 Staff Members

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 30, 2021) —National Public Radio and SAG-AFTRA have agreed on a new nationwide contract that includes 2.5% pay raises each year through 2025, provides 20 weeks of paid parental leave, and includes a number of important diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments. Members approved the contract Sept. 30 by a vote of 324–4, and the SAG-AFTRA Washington-Mid Atlantic Local Executive Board ratified the agreement by a unanimous vote the same day. The parties will meet for a formal signing ceremony on October 1, 2021. Final approval of the agreement is pending review and ratification by the SAG-AFTRA executive committee later in October. Upon approval, the contract takes effect retroactive to 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2021.

The contract covers 521 NPR audio and digital public media professionals, including hosts; correspondents; newscasters; reporters; announcers; editors; producers; research, archive and data strategists; and news app developers and designers represented by SAG-AFTRA. Formal negotiations for a successor agreement began on July 27 and concluded on Sept. 28, 2021, and were conducted in addition to ongoing productive and collaborative talks throughout the pandemic. Members supported the negotiations with social media posts using the tagline, "Wherever we are, we make NPR."

"Congratulations to SAG-AFTRA members at NPR on their new contract," said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. "The power of collective action was on display for all to see with the successful 'Wherever we are, we make NPR' social media campaign. It demonstrates what's possible when members stay engaged and stand together. We thank NPR for recognizing the significant contributions of our SAG-AFTRA members."

"The productive relationship between NPR and our unions has been essential during this ongoing pandemic, and the conversations we have had with SAG-AFTRA and NABET have helped us navigate through multiple crises these past months," said NPR CEO John Lansing. "Since arriving at NPR, I have been thinking about ways we can expand our support for employees, not just during the pandemic, but throughout their work experience. This contract puts into print several advancements that have been on my radar for some time, including many that touch on our diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities."

"I'm proud to have represented the hundreds of journalists at NPR and proud to have worked cooperatively with NPR in negotiating this contract," said Becky Sullivan, a reporter on NPR's NewsDesk and lead unit member of the negotiating team. "I know it will help NPR's producers, editors, reporters, hosts, newscasters and other staff do the very best work we can, while also helping NPR live up to its public service mission to the American people.

"Members led our team in shaping this contract," said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. "Through their persistence and dedication, they achieved a contract that values the work they do by providing commitments on advancing equity and inclusion, increased parental leave, a more equitable pay structure and a commitment to pursue additional enhancements that improve work-life balance. This deal frees them to continue to do what they do best: create high-quality programming."

Contract highlights include:

  • Twenty weeks of fully paid parental leave — up from the previous eight weeks — and 26 weeks of job protection for leave taken for the birth, adoption, foster or other placement of a child.
  • A commitment that at least 30% of external candidates interviewed for regular bargaining unit positions be from underrepresented groups that advance NPR's diversity goals.
  • Improvements to the minimum salary system that will help ensure greater pay transparency and equity. In addition to an upcoming January 2022 general wage increase, about 150 SAG-AFTRA-covered employees will also receive a further increase as a result of these new minimums.
  • A more transparent promotions process.

The new contract exemplifies NPR and SAG-AFTRA's strengthened partnership. Both organizations worked together throughout the pandemic to ensure the safety and wellbeing of NPR staff and to preserve SAG-AFTRA jobs. Among other things, the new contract reflects NPR and SAG AFTRA's mutual commitment to realizing NPR's DEI priorities, including ensuring transparent, fair, and equitable practices related to hiring, career development, pay, and promotions.

NPR and SAG-AFTRA look forward to supporting NPR's mission and service to the American public for years to come.

In addition to NPR, SAG-AFTRA also represents public media professionals at NHPR in Concord, New Hampshire; WAMU in Washington, D.C.; Marketplace APM; WHYY in Philadelphia; KPCC in Pasadena, California; KPBS in San Diego; WBEZ in Chicago; KUOW in Seattle; Minnesota Public Radio, MPR Current and Classical; digital, per diem, temp and Gothamist employees at New York Public Radio; WBUR in Boston; KCRW in Santa Monica, California; and WBGO in Newark, New Jersey.

About NPR

NPR, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is widely known for its rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling that connects with millions of Americans every day — on the air, online, and in-person. NPR strives to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners can find NPR by tuning in to their local Member stations (, and now it's easy to listen to our stories on smart speaker devices. Ask your smart speaker to, "Play NPR," and you'll be tuned into your local Member station's live stream. Your speaker can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now, and the Visual Newscast is available for screened speakers. Get more information at and by following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


SAG-AFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other entertainment and media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. A proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO, SAG-AFTRA has national offices in Los Angeles and New York and local offices nationwide representing members working together to secure the strongest protections for entertainment and media artists into the 21st century and beyond. Visit and follow @sagaftranews for breaking news from SAG-AFTRA.


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Free Artists from Industry Restrictions

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Unemployment Assistance, Local Resources & More

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New Events Added Daily

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Return To Work Update: New Protocols in Place

The new safety protocols, which went into effect on July 19 and will be in place until at least September 30, 2021, makes modifications on workplace practices, taking into account differing levels of risk based on production location employee vaccination status. The revised agreement also includes updates to testing and PPE requirements; rules for producers' mandatory vaccination policies; and revised travel and transportation requirements.

Our Mission

SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world.

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Aftra sag


American labor union governing media professionals and entertainers

SAG-AFTRA Logo.svg
FoundedMarch 30, 2012 (2012-03-30)
Headquarters5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, California
1900 Broadway
New York, New York
(national headquarters)[1]


116,741 ("active" members) (2016)[2]
80,440 (other members; withdrawn/suspended) (2014)[3]

Key people

  • Fran Drescher, National President[4]
  • Rebecca Damon, Executive Vice President
  • Camryn Manheim, Secretary-Treasurer
  • Clyde Kusatsu, National Vice President, Los Angeles
  • Liz Zazzi, National Vice President, New York
  • Michele Proude, National Vice President, Mid-Sized Locals
  • Suzanne Burkhead, National Vice President, Small Locals
  • William Charlton, National Vice President, Actors/Performers
  • Bob Butler, National Vice President, Broadcasters
  • Dan Navarro, National Vice President, Recording Artists/Singers
AffiliationsAAAA, AFL-CIO, IFJ, FIA

The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA, stylized as SAG•AFTRA) is an American labor union representing approximately 160,000 film and television actors, journalists, radio personalities, recording artists, singers, voice actors, internet influencers, fashion models, and other media professionals worldwide. The organization was formed on March 30, 2012, following the merger of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG, created in 1933) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA, created in 1937 as the American Federation of Radio Artists, gaining a 'T' in 1952 after its merger with the Television Authority).[5] SAG-AFTRA is a member of the AFL–CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States.[6]



This section needs expansion with: descriptions of the pioneering roles both organizations separately played in organizing the entertainment industry in the United States. This should include covering the establishment of both, groundbreaking collective bargaining gains, the Hollywood blacklist years, and efforts to expand and protect intellectual property rights.. You can help by adding to it. (September 2021)

As of January 2013, Variety reported that the merger had proceeded with "few bumps", amid shows of good will on both sides. The stickiest remaining problem was reported to be the merger of the two pension funds, in part as a way of dealing with the issue of performers who paid into each plan, yet did not quite earn enough under either of the old plans to qualify for a pension.[7]

Ken Howard was the first president of the merged union.[8] Upon his death he was succeeded by Gabrielle Carteris.[9] On Sept 2, 2021, Fran Drescher of the Unite for Strength faction[clarification needed] was elected president.[4]

SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, California, headquarters to SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA is headquartered in Los Angeles, California and in New York City in addition to other local offices nationwide.[1]


SAG-AFTRA has a diverse membership consisting of actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, disc jockeys, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals.

Membership in SAG-AFTRA is considered a rite of passage for new performers and media professionals. It is often procured after getting hired for their first job in a studio that has a collective bargaining agreement with the union.[10] SAG-AFTRA work is considered to be substantially more prestigious than non-union jobs. Due to the size and influence of the union, most major media firms have a collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA through the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Studios that have signed a collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA are not closed shops, but are generally required to give preference to union members first when hiring.

Nearly all professional actors and media professionals working for medium or large-scale American media firms are expected to be unionized. As a result, SAG-AFTRA has many members who are consistently out of work, uncommon for a union, but reflective of how work is procured in the industry. According to SAG-AFTRA's Department of Labor records since its founding, around 34%, or a third, of the union's total membership have consistently been considered "withdrawn," "suspended," or otherwise not categorized as "active" members. These members are ineligible to vote in the union.[11] "Honorable withdrawals" constitute the largest portion of these, at 20% of the total membership, or 46,934 members. "Suspended payment" members are the second largest, at 14%, or 33,422 members.[3] This classification scheme is continued from the Screen Actors Guild,[12] rather than the scheme used by AFTRA.[13]


The union is perceived as having two factions. The larger faction has focused on creating job opportunities for members. A second faction has criticized the current administration for being too quick and soft when it comes to negotiations with studios.[14]

Membership First[edit]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2021)

Unite for Strength[edit]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2021)

Major strikes and boycotts[edit]

Global Rule One[edit]

Under Global Rule One, no SAG-AFTRA members are allowed to work for any producer who has not executed a minimum basic agreement with the union that is in full force and effect. This rule applies worldwide.[15]

Do not work orders are formally issued to denote productions that have not entered into the required agreements.[16]

2016–17 strike[edit]

Main article: 2016–17 video game voice actor strike

After about a year and a half of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA issued a strike on October 21, 2016, against eleven American video game developers and publishers, including Activision, Electronic Arts, Insomniac Games, Take 2 Interactive, and WB Games. The strike resulted from attempted negotiations since February 2015 to replace the previous contract, the Interactive Media Agreement, that expired in late 2014.[17] There were four major issues they fought for with this strike: establishing transparency in contract negotiation; preventing vocal stress from long recording sessions; providing safety assurances for stunt coordinators on performance capture sets; and giving payments of residuals based on sales of a video game,[18] which have traditionally not been used in the video game industry. SAG-AFTRA members sought to bring equity for video game actors as in other industries, while the video game companies feared that giving residuals to actors would overshadow the contributions of programmers and artists that contribute to the games. It was the first such organized strike within the video game industry and the first voice actors' strike in 17 years, as well as the first strike within the merged SAG-AFTRA organization. As of April 23, 2017, it became the longest strike within SAG, surpassing the 95-day 1980 Emmy Awards strike, and the 2000 commercials strike.[19]

An agreement was reached on September 23, 2017, ending the 340-day strike.[20]

Bartle Bogle Hegarty strike[edit]

On September 20, 2018, SAG called a strike against global advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty over certain waivers for low-budget commercials that BBH added, among other provisions. Earlier that month, BBH had withdrawn from their contract with SAG, which was first agreed on in 1999, over contractual terms that stated BBH would not be allowed to hire non-union actors, which they believed put them at competitive disadvantage as many of their peer agencies were not signatories.[21][22][23]

On July 20, 2019, SAG ended its 10-month strike against BBH after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract.[24]

Donald Trump ban[edit]

On February 7, 2021, SAG-AFTRA announced that former U.S. President Donald Trump, who resigned from the group on February 4, 2021, would be barred from ever rejoining due to alleged attacks on journalists and obstructing the peaceful transfer of power to the next president.[25]

Organizing campaigns[edit]


On February 9, 2016, NBCUniversal, Telemundo's parent company, faced claims by SAG-AFTRA of operating under a double standard between its Spanish-language and English-language talent at NBC and Telemundo. In its response, the network released a statement claiming it is “committed to making Telemundo a great place to work for our employees and will continue to invest in them to ensure their salaries and working conditions are competitive with the rest of the broadcasting industry in accordance with market size and station revenues.”

A few days later on February 13, 2016, SAG-AFTRA came back and added that Telemundo had been treating its employees like “second-class professionals” given that many actors do not receive basic workplace guarantees that SAG-AFTRA contracts provide, such as fair pay, water breaks, health insurance and residuals. At that time, Telemundo president Luis Silberwasser responded by saying that SAG-AFTRA asked for recognition of the union as the bargaining agent for employees — rather than seeking a vote by employees. However, SAG-AFTRA claimed that intimidation tactics had been taking place within the network to keep employees from unionizing and that they believe “there is no such thing as a ‘fair vote’ when workers are afraid for their careers and livelihoods, and live with the fear of retaliation if they are seen as actively wanting to unionize. SAG-AFTRA wants to ensure full protection for workplace democracy and performers’ rights to choose through a truly fair process.”[26]

In August 2016, Telemundo once again found itself up against the union when the network refused to air an ad placed by SAG-AFTRA detailing the unfair wage gap and lack of benefits Telemundo employees face as opposed to unionized performers at NBCUniversal. The ad was set to air during the network’s premiere people’s choice awards Premios Tu Mundo but was never placed into rotation. A Telemundo spokesperson responded saying, “After legal review, we have concluded the ad did not pass legal standards for issue-based advertisement.” Meanwhile, other Spanish-language networks such as MegaTV and Estrella TV aired the ad nationwide.[27]

SAG-AFTRA continued to stand its ground, stating that "Telemundo's decision to censor 30 seconds of truthful commentary about its working conditions shows just how averse it is to having a transparent discussion about its refusal to fairly compensate Spanish-speaking performers."[27]

In March 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administered a secret vote amongst 124 Telemundo performers, based on the amount of time actors have worked on telenovela dramas and other shows. SAG-AFTRA announced that 81% of eligible voters chose to unionize in a balloting process that began Feb. 7 and lasted four weeks.[28]

Joining the union will allow Telemundo actors, along with singers, dancers and stunt people, to bargain with the network for health insurance, residual payments and other benefits that are routine at English-language television networks.[29]


  1. ^ ab"Contact Us". SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  2. ^Whipp, Glenn, SAG Awards 2016: Take that, Oscars -- diversity's the big winner tonight, Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2016
  3. ^ abUS Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-391. Report submitted July 30, 2014.
  4. ^ ab
  5. ^"SAG, AFTRA Members Approve Merger to Form SAG-AFTRA" (Press release). SAG-AFTRA. March 30, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  6. ^"Unions of the AFL-CIO". AFL-CIO. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  7. ^McNary, Dave (January 25, 2013). "SAG, AFTRA merger makes for few bumps". Variety.
  8. ^Olsen, Mark (March 23, 2016). "Ken Howard, actor and president of SAG-AFTRA, dies at 71". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  9. ^Rodriguez, Brenda (April 9, 2016). "With new president, SAG-AFTRA makes historic change by putting women in leadership". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  10. ^SAG-AFTRA, Steps to Join
  11. ^US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-391. (Search)
  12. ^US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-113. (Search)
  13. ^US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-030. (Search)
  14. ^Verrier, Richard, SAG-AFTRA election reflects fears over actors' pay for online shows, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2015
  15. ^Robb, David (2019-07-17). "Jane Austin, SAG-AFTRA Presidential Candidate, Has A Plan To Fix A Union That "Has Lost Its Way"". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  16. ^Robb, David (2018-10-18). "SAG-AFTRA Rescinds Do-Not-Work Order For 'Keys To The City' TV Movie". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  17. ^Smith, Iman (October 22, 2016). "Voice Actors Strike Against Video Game Companies". NPR. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  18. ^Critical Scope (2017-03-30), Voice actors Matt Mercer & Marisha Ray discuss SAG-AFTRA Interactive Strike (AnimeMilwaukee), retrieved 2017-03-31
  19. ^Robb, David (January 24, 2017). "Actors Strike Against Video Game Industry Now Second-Longest in SAG History". Deadline. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  20. ^McNary, Dave (September 25, 2017). "SAG-AFTRA Video Game Strike Ends After a Year". Variety. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  21. ^McNary, Dave (2018-09-20). "SAG-AFTRA Calls a Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty". Variety. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  22. ^(TNS), David Ng Los Angeles Times. "SAG-AFTRA clashes with ad industry over rise in nonunion commercial production". Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  23. ^Robb, David (2018-09-06). "SAG-AFTRA Accuses Bartle Bogle Hegarty Ad Agency Of Lying To Actors About Commercials Pact". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  24. ^McNary, Dave (2019-07-20). "SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty". Variety. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  25. ^Robb, David (2021-02-07). "Donald Trump Banned From Ever Rejoining SAG-AFTRA". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  26. ^McNary, Dave (13 February 2016). "SAG-AFTRA, Telemundo Unionization Battle Heats Up". Variety. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  27. ^ abHandel, Jonathan (29 August 2016). "Telemundo Refuses to Air SAG-AFTRA Ad About Language Equity". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  28. ^Ng, David (August 16, 2017). "Telemundo actors vote overwhelmingly to join SAG-AFTRA". Los Angeles Times.
  29. ^Wiessner, Daniel (August 16, 2017). "Telemundo actors form first Spanish-language television union". Reuters.

External links[edit]

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