Victoria Clark is a well respected actress, musical theatre singer and director. Now she is running for the Elected Council of Actors’ Equity.
Yesterday T2C printed Ms. Clark’s manifesto. Today Ms. Clark answers our tough questions, that come with running for representing an industry that is fighting almost biblical forces.
T2C: This is a tough year to be running. It seems no matter what you say you are criticized. Why run now?
Victoria Clark: The tough years are the times to step up and give back, not run away! Our current cultural climate demands experienced leaders. And with 35 years of AEA experience, I can offer a unique perspective. And just on a practical level, I have more time to give to my union right now and in the coming months, (and years!!) so I’m grabbing the opportunity of more discretionary time to serve the union (if Im elected.) We are living in historic times, and they require renewed and focused goals from all of us. There will always be those who will criticize and disagree, but that should never keep us from speaking our truth. I welcome healthy discussion, as long as people remain respectful and open to different points of view.
T2C: What would you say is the biggest difficulty actors face this year?
Victoria Clark: The biggest difficulty of course is that we don’t know how or when we will be going back to work! We are collaborative creatures, and Zoom calls and virtual rehearsals/readings can never substitute for live in-person interactions. Theater is not a 2 dimensional medium. We are 3-dimensional, and depend on the chemical visceral exchange of ideas and interactions to make theater.
T2C: If theatre is not allowed to come back until at least 2021 how can Equity help its members?
Victoria Clark: If elected, I hope that I will be able to assist committees in reaching out to members to see what they need in this “in-between” time. The first and most important step is keeping ALL members well-informed with updates regarding re-opening productions and rehearsals and safety protocols getting us back to work. Keeping lines of communication open will be critical so that actors don’t feel left out
T2C: What if the time stretches out to 2022, 2023?
Victoria Clark: I hope and pray that it won’t, but if it does, we are all going to get really good at voice-overs!!
T2C: It seems that streaming is the new format for actors. How would you address this issue?
Victoria Clark: Actors are givers. We want to participate in the healing of our world, our country, our community. It makes total sense that actors want to participate in readings, concerts, etc, in order to help others. But now, we need to pivot to being paid for our participation in streaming events. Acting is not our hobby. Acting is our profession.
T2C: In a lot of what I have read actors are asking for concessions such as tax records from producers. How do you think Equity will handle this?
Victoria Clark: AEA will be working in conjunction with all our sister and brother theatrical unions to find the most equitable and safe way to get all union members in the theater back to work. Everything will be about collaboration and cooperation moving forward.
T2C: How can actors keep in the loop while they wait?
Victoria Clark: The website is current and up to date. There is information there! There is a wonderful letter from our Executive Director Mary McColl up on the website now addressing the #Blacklivesmatter movement which all AEA members can log on and read. But I want to remind everyone Actors Equity is a labor union for professional actors and stage managers, and a member of the AFL-CIO they exist to help protect the health, safety, and well-being of our membership.”Equity seeks to foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans.” (1) A life in the theater can be quite fulfilling with so many enjoyable aspects, but it’s important to remember Equity is not a club. It is a union founded by hardworking actors 100 years ago and it is not up to our union to get work for us. It exists to inform us, support us, and protect us, on the job and in between jobs. (1) Actorsequity.org
T2C: What is a Principal Councilor?
Victoria Clark: I am running for Eastern Regional Principal Councilor, which means that I run for the Eastern district of our national membership (East Coast), and represent both Principal actors (playing leading and supporting roles) and all the contracts that pertain to them.
T2C: How can an actor get more involved with helping its union?
Victoria Clark: There are many opportunities for members to serve on various committees. Members should log on to Actorsequity.org to find out how to serve. You do NOT need to be a Council member to be on a committee! Don’t be shy!
T2C: What haven’t I asked that you think is important for members to know?
Victoria Clark: We live in historic times and we are in the middle of a collective reckoning. Black Lives Matter. I personally vow to talk less, listen more. And I welcome the education and change that is ahead!