We’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions here. Please check to see if the information you are looking for is included. If not, go ahead and ask! But if you need immediate attention, please call the union directly at (855) 724-2387.
- Can you recommend agents, managers or acting coaches? What about modeling schools?
There is a current list of SAG franchised talent agents in the Find an Agent area of our site. In fairness to all of our franchised agents, we do not recommend any one franchised agent over any other. Some of the franchised agents also handle modeling and print work. You'll need to check those details for yourself, as Screen Actors Guild does not have jurisdiction in those areas. Legitimate talent agencies do not charge a fee payable in advance for registering you, for resumes, for public relations services, for screen tests, for photographs, for acting lessons, or for many other services used to separate you from your money. If you are signed as a client by a legitimate talent agency, you will pay that agency nothing until you work, and then 10 percent of your earnings as a performer -- but nothing in advance. Legitimate talent agencies normally do not advertise for clients in newspaper classified columns nor do they solicit through the mail. If a purported talent agent seeks to send you to a particular photographer for pictures, hold your wallet tight and run for the nearest exit. Chances are s/he's a phony and receives a cut of the photographer's fee. If you need photographs, choose your own photographer. Better still, try another agent.
Incidentally, we do not have a formal relationship with "personal" or "business" managers. That doesn't mean they are bad or unnecessary; it just means that the Guild does not have an institutional relationship with them. There are well-established firms engaged in personal and business management. However, such firms usually handle established artists, and they neither advertise for newcomers, nor promise employment. The telephone number for the Talent Managers Association, formerly the Conference of Personal Managers, is (310) 205-8495.
We do not evaluate and/or recommend to members any sevice providers such as acting coaches, commercial workshops, modeling schools, photographers, or managers. There are so many people who want to be actors, and therefore unfortunately there are also many scam artists who will take your money and promise you acting jobs -- but deliver nothing. Use the same common sense you would use in making other major purchases: i.e., network, check with the Better Business Bureau, don't pre-pay full amounts, compare prices.
- Can I earn a living as an actor?
It may take several years for a beginner to earn a living as a performer. You must have a substantial cushion of savings to fund your quest and/or secure consistent alternate work to support you during the early stages of your career.
Even the most talented performers may do everything right and still not end up with acting jobs. Success in this business is an unpredictable combination of talent, training, residence, "look", energy, attitude, and the completely uncontrollable factor -- luck!
You must not take rejection personally! Even a working professional may not earn their income performing in just one medium.
Most professional performers generally need several potential income streams to earn enough money to sustain performing as a full-time career. For example, one year they might have SAG earnings of $7,000, AFTRA earnings of $12,000, Equity earnings of $6,000 and AGMA/AGVA earnings of $8,000. The following year they might have SAG earnings of $25,000 (because they appeared in a national commercial), AFTRA earnings of $9,000, Equity earnings of $5,000 and no AGMA/AGVA earnings at all.
The Actors' Fund is an excellent resource for actors looking to supplement their income. They offer the Actors Work program and many other helpful seminars and services.
- Will I be required to accept only union work once I join SAG?
Yes. You must be ready and willing to follow SAG’s rules and regulations and to accept ONLY union employment once you become a member of SAG.
First and foremost of all the SAG rules is Global Rule One. It is the foundation of SAG's strength in protecting and representing its members. Global Rule One states:
"No SAG member shall work as an actor or make an agreement to work as an actor for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild which is in full force and effect. This provision applies worldwide."
- Does this mean that once I become a SAG member I may not accept any non-union performing work to supplement my income?
Yes it does!
* SAG members cannot accept an acting role in any studio, independent, low-budget, pilot, experimental, non-profit, interactive, educational, student, or ANY production, unless that producer has signed a Contract or Letter of Agreement with Screen Actors Guild.
* In addition, by joining Screen Actors Guild, members also agree to abide by Rule 9, which states that members of one of the Four A performers' unions (SAG, AFTRA, Equity, AGVA, AGMA) will not accept non-union work in another union's jurisdiction.
- How can I join Screen Actors Guild?
Please see the Join SAG section of this website. To listen to an informative, recorded message, please call (323) 549-6772.
- What do I have to do to get started as an actor?
There is no simple answer for how to break into the world of acting. Typically, performers take acting classes or study theater in school. Beginning actors often work in non-union background and principal roles in the early stages of their careers, as they get experience and build up a resume. Screen Actors Guild's interaction with performers begins after they have achieved professional status and are ready to join the Guild.
Because of the nature of film and television casting, our members -- like all performers -- must take their own steps towards getting agents, auditions and roles. We do everything possible to create an environment in which our members will be hired, and we look after their welfare once they are hired. The main goal of SAG is to provide competitive wages and safe, excellent working conditions for our members.
While we are not in a position to provide individual guidance to those who are getting into this business, we certainly invite you to explore our website to learn more about the history of the Guild and the business of acting.
- Should my manager be SAG franchised?
SAG does not franchise or otherwise have a relationship with personal managers, nor can it give you legal advice on that relationship or on any contract that may be offered to you. Should you have a general question about your relationship with your manager, please call SAG's Agency Department for assistance.
- I live over an hour away from most interview locations and my school doesn't dismiss until 3:30 PM. My agent knows this but still keeps giving me interviews before 4:30 PM. I have to leave school early in order to be at the interview on time. What can I do?
Nowadays, requests for interviews are mostly submitted on line, and appointments are sent out the same way. There is very little for the agent to interact with the casting office. Always ask for a later time, and remind your agent that you are not supposed to leave school early. Or at least ask your agent for the "window" on the interview time. (The window is the span of time the casting director is interviewing for your role. For example, your interview may be at 3:15 PM, but the window is from 3:00-4:45 PM.) Casting offices can sometimes be flexible, and they will often let the agent know this.
- I've been held over an hour on several commercial interviews, and I haven't been paid. My agent doesn't seem interested in helping. What can I do?
Agents don’t always have access to information necessary to pursue these payments effectively. As long as you completed the sign-in sheet properly, you should receive your money. Contact either the Theatrical Contracts Department or the Commercials Contracts Department for assistance. You may also want to have a discussion with SAG’s Agency Department about your agent’s lack of interest in assisting you.
- Hey, what's going on? When I was a member of SAG in the Hollywood Division, my agent had to negotiate scale plus 10 percent in order to collect a commission. Now I'm a New York member, and my agent takes a commission on scale payments without getting the extra 10 percent. Did I miss something?
No, you didn’t. Many years ago, each SAG Branch voted on whether they wanted their agents to commission scale payments for original session employment or whether to require the agents to negotiate above scale in the original session employment in order to collect their payment. Several of the Branches and Divisions, including New York, voted for the more liberal commission structure—leading to the invasion of scale in those areas. Hollywood members, however, voted to require agents to collect scale + ten for original session work in TV/Theatricals in order to get paid. Remember, these commission structures may not be adhered to by the ATA/NATR agencies.