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How To Get Into the Actors' Equity Association

Want to live your dream of working in the theater? Here's all you need to know to break into the Actors' Equity Association, a labor union representing theater actors and stage managers.


  • TIP: The 50 weeks don't have to be consecutive.
  • Step 1: Once you've qualified for membership, pay the initiation fee and dues. Benefits include safe sanitary working conditions, guaranteed minimum pay, and agency regulation. You'll be part of an organization that ensures workers are treated fairly while pursuing their dreams!
  • FACT: The Actors' Equity Association was formed in 1913 by 112 actors.
  • Step 2: While in the EMC program, work at least 50 weeks at the theater. Complete the EMC registration form every time you accrue a week of work. Your theater will submit your form to AEA, and once you've worked enough weeks, the union will notify you.
  • Step 3: Another option is to get a job at an Equity theater that offers the Equity Membership Candidate program. Signing up for the EMC allows you to credit your work toward AEA membership. The program's registration fee will be applied to your initiation fee once you are accepted into the union.
  • Step 4: One way to join AEA is to take a job that requires you to sign an Equity contract, which guarantees fair treatment and equal job opportunities for AEA members. You can apply to join the union as long as you are employed under that contract.
  • Step 5: If you don't sign an Equity contract, you can also join AEA if you have already been a member of a sister union for at least a year. You must also be a member in good standing with that union, and have worked as a performer on a principal or "under-five" contract, or have done at least three days of extra work.
  • TIP: Unions affiliated with Equity are the Screen Actors Guild, American Guild of Musical Artists, American Guild of Variety Artists, Guild of Italian-American Actors, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
  • Step 6: Understand that Actors' Equity Association is the labor union that represents stage actors and managers in the U.S., negotiating wages and working conditions and providing benefits – including health insurance and retirement plans – to its members.

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