Jerry Horwath

March 27, 2023

What Exactly is an Actors' Union and Should You Join?

Hey there, wanna know the lowdown on being an actor and the whole Actors Union shebang? You've come to the right place. Grab some popcorn, and let's dive a quick dive!


So, what's this Actors Union? It's the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), or simply SAG. This bigwig union has actors backs, offering support and benefits to its members.

Here's what SAG does for actors:

  • Negotiates contracts: Ensuring fair pay and working conditions.
  • Offers health and pension perks: Actors gotta stay healthy and save for retirement, right?
  • Provides legal support: It's Hollywood; things can get messy.
  • Training and education: The more you learn, the more roles you can score!

Now let's talk pros and cons of joining SAG:

  1. Better pay and working conditions: Union actors typically get better deals.
  2. Health and pension benefits: Future-proofing for when you're a silver-screen legend.
  3. Legal support: A legal dream team for when things go south.
  4. Training and education: Hone your skills, and land bigger roles.

  1. Membership fees: Ain't nothing free in this world, honey.
  2. Limited job opportunities: Some indie gigs might only hire non-union actors.
  3. Getting in ain't easy: You need to have some acting experience and earnings under your belt first.

Union but not?

There is another option - which is to join SAG but declare fi-core. Fi-core can be a hot-button issue with union members, but it basically allows actors to work on union and non-union projects. Still, you'd give up some of the rights and benefits provided by the union. It's something I'll touch on in a later post. 

Should you join SAG?

So, should you join the Actors Union? I would say no if you're starting out or have no plans to move to Hollywood, especially if voice acting is your main focus. 

Otherwise, go for it if you're after better pay, working conditions, and benefits and live in LA or plan to move soon. However, do your research and pick what suits your career best. 

And if you do join SAG, make sure to follow the rules and participate in union activities. It's a commitment, but it can be worth it. Check out their membership benefits at

So there you have it, folks! The Actors Union can be a great ally, but it's not without its drawbacks. Consider your goals and do your homework before making the leap. Happy voice-acting!

About the author 

Jerry Horwath

Jerry is a veteran audio engineer who has recorded and directed thousands of voice overs for fortune 500 companies over his 25-year career. He's the former lead agent of Voicebox Talent and current principal engineer at Buzz Cutz Audio.

His well-rounded experience is matched only by his well-rounded body. He's fat and good at what he does.

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