Edwin Booth founded the "Players" in 1888 which held meetings at the "Players." The "Players" was an actors' club in Gramercy Park. The second organisation, Actors' Society of America, was formed in 1895 and was led by Louis Aldrich. Actors' Society of America was dissolved by vote of members in 1912.
An actor may also apply for membership if they are a member of any of the sister unions in the performing arts. These unions are the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA), and Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
The third way one gets an equity card is through the "Equity Membership Candidate Program" (EMC). In this program, actors are allowed to work in Equity productions as credit towards eventual membership. An actor is eligible for membership once he completes fifty weeks of work at theatres that are a part of the EMC program.
Once a member, the actor is required to pay "yearly dues" of $118 plus "working dues" which are 2.25% of the gross earnings through an equity contract.
Member benefits and privileges
The first major benefit to having an Equity card, as an actor, is that many professional auditions are Equity-only calls. Non-members are allowed to attend, but with no guarantee of being seen. Equity members are allowed to attend these Equity-only calls without these restrictions.
Once an individual is a member of Actor's Equity, they may not rehearse or perform in a non-equity production without written permission from Equity. The rule does not apply to children under the age of 14, who may temporarily withdraw membership in order to perform in a non-equity production such as a school play.
- "THE SECRET HISTORY: Actors' Equity Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary in the Place where (shhhhhh!) it all began". Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- Bordman, Gerald; Gerald Bordman; Thomas S. Hischak (6 May 2006). The Oxford Companion to American Theatre (Third ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0195169867.
- "AEA Membership Information and Procedures" (PDF). Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "ASK PLAYBILL.COM: Equity Cards". Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Benefits Overview". Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Equity Principal Audition Procedures New York" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Equity Chorus Call Audition Procedures New York and Los Angeles" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "If I'm a member, may I work on a non-union contract?". Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
- "May a juvenile member be in a school play?". Archived from the original on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2012.