Do I need to be Actor’s Equity to audition for a principal role?

ANNA wants to audition for a role in the Broadway play, “Fat Pig”.   She asked: Do I have to be part of Actor’s Equity to be able to audition for a role in a Broadway play?  What does “Equity Principal Auditions” mean to me?   

I asked one of our honorable subscribers, Arthur, for some insight into this question.



Unfortunately, an Equity Principal Audition requires that all auditioners be members of Actors Equity and must produce their membership card or other acceptable certification at the audition. For many non-principal roles, non-union actors can be considered but Equity rules limit the number of non-union roles that may be permitted in an Equity production and often those roles are the lesser ones. However, there is no harm in her putting in her resume and headshot for the production anyway, as she may get one of those roles and that can lead to Equity qualification.



It occurred to me late last night that if Anna is a member of a sister organization or in the EMC program then she could be considered a “future member” and could then audition on a “stand by” basis. The following info comes directly from the AE site (// Here are the pertinent rules:

Audition as “Future Member”

I’m not an Equity Member yet. I heard that I can go to EPAs and Chorus Calls and just hang around until the Equity actors are finished auditioning, and then I might get seen. Is that true?

Sort of. Future Equity Members are welcome to attend Equity auditions as our guests, but the producer (or casting director) decides whether or not future Members will be seen at any given EPA or Equity Chorus Call.

If the casting personnel wish to see these performers, a sign-up sheet will be posted for them. During the day, whenever there are no Equity Members auditioning or waiting, the volunteer Equity Audition Monitor will call names on the future Members’ sign-up sheet in order, and then bring these performers in to audition. If you are not present when your name is called, you must sign up again at the end of the list.

Yes, this means that you may have to wait quite a while to be seen at an Equity call. You might not be seen at all, depending on casting personnel’s wishes and the popularity of the call among Equity Members. Still, Equity’s audition system benefits future Members as well as Equity Members, by providing audition opportunities that might otherwise not exist. When you become an Equity Member, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all of these opportunities.

“Future Member”

Known as (Associated Actors and Artistes of America) Affiliation. Membership is also available by virtue of prior membership in a performing arts sister union (such as Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). Applicant must be a member in good standing of the sister union for at least one year, and must have worked as a performer under one principal contract, one under five contract or three extra contracts in that union’s jurisdiction. You must submit a written statement from the parent union stating that you meet these requirements. (This sister-union policy is not applicable to non-resident alien performers. See Alien/Foreign Actor Rules below.)

Equity Membership Candidate Program (EMC). This program permits actors and stage managers in training to credit theatrical work in an Equity theatre towards eventual membership in Equity. After securing a position at a participating theatre, you may register as a candidate. The registration fee will be credited against any future Initiation Fee when you become eligible for membership. Eligibility under this program requires a total of 50 weeks of EMC work at participating theatres.

I hope this helps.


ARTHUR’S 3RD RESPONSE (What a great guy huh?!!!)

I called the AE office here in New York and spoke with the Audition Dept. to a very nice woman named Angel.  She says that at every Equity audition non-members MAY present themselves.  There is a non-member signup sheet that you need to use and you should have your headshot and resume with you and be ready to audition.  Here’s the catch … it’s entirely a matter of IF they have time to consider you AFTER every AEA member has been auditioned and it’s entirely at the discretion of the auditioning official/director.

So … GO FOR IT!  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  If nothing else, you will gain the experience of the Equity audition process (even if they don’t actually audition you and even more so if they do).  Your persistence has paid off … and I learned something in the process too!  I’m not Equity myself, and I will now go ahead and seek opportunities to present myself at Equity auditions.

Let me know how it works out.

All the best,


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