When Should I Join SAG-AFTRA?


Ben Russell

Ben Russell

·4 min read

SAG-AFTRA, or The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is a union that supports film and television actors, radio personalities, voice actors, journalists, recording artists, singers, and other media professionals.

Once you become eligible to join, you may apply to be part of the union. In order to join, an initiation fee of $3,000 is charged. Along with that, you are charged semi annual dues. Once you become a member, the union is meant to serve you, the actor. Their responsibility is to assist with your retirement fund, negotiate an appropriate salary, and ensure that you have health benefits.

So, when is the right time to join SAG-AFTRA?

  • When you become part of the union, you can no longer work for non-union authorized productions. As a result, you will be competing in a job market against other highly skilled actors.

    Before you decide to join, it is important to reassess your acting abilities and your marketability. Make sure that your acting skills are high enough to get casted over other talented actors. If needed, hone in on your craft some more before applying. In addition to this, make sure there is an opening for you in the acting world. What do you offer to it? Do you have a specific brand, and is there room for you in the union job market where you live? Once you decide that you are a perfect fit, make sure that you have the appropriate marketing tools for yourself.

    • Everyone has a different opinion about joining SAG-AFTRA:
      • “My opinion on when to join SAG-AFTRA is unpopular, but I stand by it, as I've coached many actors over the years. If your dream is to be a working SAG actor on network and studio projects, and you have a few non-union projects on your resume, then you should join the union as soon as you have the opportunity.” - The Hollywood Success Coach

        “If an actor doesn’t have an agent and is looking for work on their own, than the chances are they will only be able to get themselves auditions for non union work. If an actor/actress has a SAG agent and is being sent out on auditions for SAG productions then they should join SAG. It’s a very exciting opportunity and stepping stone when an actor/actress is eligible to join SAG.” - Goldberg, Scudieri & Lindenberg, P.C.

        • It is ultimately your decision on when and if to join SAG-AFTRA, but considering this article will help you make your choice.

          Looking to connect with SAG-AFTRA gigs? Head to www.castingdepot.com/login to get started.