The Screen Actors Guild

The Screen Actors Guild by Igor Reiant of Casting360

As Managing Partner of Casting360, I encounter many people who want to know more about the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Founded in 1933 by members of the Actors’ Equity Association, the SAG is a labor union that seeks to improve working conditions for screen actors. The SAG grew out of dissatisfaction with long hours and exclusive contracts that mandated which movies actors could appear in and what political views they could express. Actors who resisted these restrictions found themselves out of work and sought the formation of the Screen Actors Guild as a means of protection.

It took a while for SAG to get started, but significant victories occurred. It was instrumental in breaking up long-term contracts in the 1940s. Other developments included ending discrimination against black performers, negotiating jurisdiction over the new medium of television, and organizing three actors’ strikes to secure these and other benefits.

In addition to offering resources to speaking-role actors, the SAG also extends its protections to extras and has launched a section called Background Actors. Extras who work on projects associated with SAG may be eligible for membership.

The SAG has a long history of advocating for actors and is instrumental to the protection those in the film industry can enjoy today. As a testament to the strength and reputation of the SAG as a vital organization for actors, many notables, including Charlton Heston and President Ronald Reagan, have held the role of its president over the years. For more information on SAG, visit www.sag.org.

--Igor Reiant works with Casting360 in San Francisco