Thursday, August 18, 2011


I've been a member of Screen Actors Guild since 1997, when I graduated from Grad School, and was lucky enough to begin working almost immediately.

For many years I felt so grateful to be working at all that I happily signed whatever contracts were offered without question. I assumed whoever was "in charge" of such things had my best interests at heart and that there was little I could do to contribute or change them anyway. I voted the way I was told to by those in charge and went on my merry way...

...until that changed. At a certain point, I realized my career was not a fluke. That “luck” had nothing to do with it. Sure, every job has some luck in it, but I'd worked hard and was good at what I did. I began to see that when people hired me, they did so because I possessed a skill set that had value. I stopped feeling like a grateful and passive recipient and began to see myself as the steward of my own career.

Hugely instrumental in this shift of perception were my fellow actors. I saw people around me who were not only passionate about their work but who also cared deeply about creating a better environment in which we could all continue to flourish.

I found myself listening to (and, ok, butting in on) every waiting-room conversation about union service, contract negotiations, changing landscapes like New Media and the ever-present need to earn a decent wage. I leaned heavily on people I knew who were engaged in union service – texting them from the set when a producer asked me to do something I wasn't sure was covered in my contract, pulling them aside in auditions to ask about protecting myself in the wild and woolly world of conflicts, cornering them in callbacks for "Internet Only" commercials to ask what the rate was based on.

Yes, I have amazing agents, but when push came to shove I found myself returning again and again to the source... my Union and, specifically, the people I knew on the Board who demonstrated again and again that they knew the landscape better than anyone and were several steps ahead of the game as far as finding solutions to the many issues we as actors face today.

These people run with me today as One.Strong.Union. The rest of us are new to board service (but with years of combined committee service) and are solidly convinced that, along with the board incumbents on the O.S.U. team, our fresh perspective and ability to bring new energy to the table is a crucial ingredient in the recipe for a strong and relevant Successor Union.

We are the people with your best interests at heart – we are with you auditioning, working in the booth, hoofing it with you to that next call-back. We stand beside you as you get a check for a New Media or Interactive job that looks way smaller than it should. We share your concerns about your rising health care premiums. We believe you should know when vital decisions and appointments are made within your union, and we believe you deserve to know how and why they are made. We care deeply about your input, and want you to be a part of the process.
We intend to arm our specific committees with people intimately familiar with each particular landscape, to give membership every advantage possible in the face of new technology. We welcome healthy discourse and debate, and will not silence those with whom we do not agree. We agree with you that Merger MUST be accomplished now for all members of both unions, and it MUST be the best Merger possible.

My name is Phoebe Jonas, we are One.Strong.Union., and we look forward to serving you in 2011-12.

Elect Sam Robards, President, and the whole ONE.STRONG.UNION. team!