When you saw the word “SAG” did you think this blog would be about my boob? My left boob? It is a little saggier than the right one, but overall, not bad. But I wasn’t talking about my boob, I’m talking about my Screen Actors Guild membership that I just got after 20 years of living in this stinkin’ city. Let me explain the whole SAG thing. This is a big deal for actors; getting your SAG card almost becomes an obsession for some because industry people don’t consider you a legitimate actor until you get your SAG card. What this card means is that you are now eligible to receive union wages for anything you work on. Union wages are higher than non-union wages and once you have your card, you’re not allowed to work in any non-union productions or the SAG police will rip you to shreds. Actually, I have no idea what happens if you do it because I gave up on getting my SAG card years ago. This came as a total but welcomed surprise.
Let me explain. Getting your card is like getting an agent; a major Catch 22. You can’t get much work without your card, but you can’t get your card until you work. One way you can get it is to work as a principal actor on a union production, except for the fact that union films only hire union actors. You can also get it as a background performer (extra) on a union production if you collect three “Taft-Hartley” vouchers for three separate days of work. This makes you “SAG eligible,” but getting three vouchers can take time if you don’t work a lot. Another way you can get it is if you are a member of an affiliated union (AFTRA, AGVA) for at least a year.
Now, this is a perfect example of me being an idiot. Close to 20 years ago when I was doing the mouse show, all of the performers had the opportunity to become a member of AGVA (American Guild of Variety Artists) through Universal. Of course, back then, I didn’t know how important this was or how it would enable me to get my SAG card quickly and easily, so I didn’t join because I didn’t want to pay the dues. A few years later I realized the importance of this when I was trying to get an agent, and I had blown my chance. This was stupid because it always looks better on your resume to be a member of SAG or any of the other unions. Finally, a few years ago, I became AFTRA eligible (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) when I did a non-speaking role in a sketch on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It’s funny how when you stop caring about something it comes to you.
So this is how I finally got my SAG card…
With the explosion of the internet, people started producing “webisodes,” and for anyone who may not know what that is, it’s like a TV episode but on the internet. A few years ago, not sure exactly when, SAG started allowing principal actors in webisodes to get their SAG card this way. I had no idea about this. My friend, Sardia (hey girl!) was producing and directing her own webisode a few months ago and asked me to be in it. I know Sardia from doing stand-up shows together. She cast me as a crazy, bitchy mom to a spoiled starlet (think Dina Lohan.) It was a fun role to play. I showed up for the couple of days of shooting and the producer called me a few weeks later to ask me if I wanted my SAG card because she was getting ready to send the paper work in. I said, “I can get my SAG card from this?” She explained the whole webisode thing and I said, “Hell yeah, why not after 20 years?” And now I only have to pay $2277.00 to actually get the card and become a member. I should throw a keg party to raise the money to join. Have a wild weekend!!!