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Things To Know Before Choosing a Union Actor for Your Project

As you gain experience as a project creator, you may come to a point where you’ll need to cast a union actor for your project. There are various types of actor unions globally, and you might not know all the names and nuances associated with them. Before you start posting your project’s union actor roles, here’s a quick guide to help you learn and understand what they do, what they cover, and what you’ll need to know before you work with performers affiliated with them.

What are acting unions?

Like any labor union, acting unions represent the interests of those working within a particular industry. This one just so happens to represent folks in the film, television, and theater branches of the entertainment industry. Actors’ unions help performers negotiate contracts and fair pay rates, provide health benefits and insurance, and ensure safe working environments for their artists. The ultimate goal of unions is to establish standards across the industry for their members while giving them peace of mind so they can focus on their craft.

What are the different unions for actors?

The aforementioned coverage, rates, and requirements can vary by union, which can also vary by region. For example, if your union actors are in the US, chances are they’re going to belong to either SAG-AFTRA or the Actor’s Equity Association (AEA). But if you head over to the UK, your actors might be members of Equity or part of the EuroFIA – the European division of the International Federation of Actors (FIA). If you’re unsure, FIA has a dedicated member page that serves as a union locator tool.

Below is a list of some of the major actors’ unions throughout the world and who they cover.

Union Name Union Location (Country) Sector Covered
SAG-AFTRA United States Actors, dancers, DJs, program hosts, recording artists, singers, voiceover artists and other media professionals.
AEA United States Theater actors and stage managers nationwide.
Equity United Kingdom Performers and creative practitioners in the UK.
ACTRA Canada Professional performers working in the English-language recorded media sector.
ANDA Latin America Artists from film, theater, radio, television, dubbing, stunt, nightclubs and other artistic and entertainment branches.
MEAA Australia Creative professionals of Australia who work in the industries that inform or entertain.


Before you cast a union actor, make sure you understand what the union they’re affiliated with requires from you – and that you’ll be able to provide it. For example, if you’re using Casting Networks you want to cast SAG-AFTRA talent, you must first file your project with SAG-AFTRA and complete the necessary paperwork before you can book actors for your project. If you have not filed with SAG and list your project as union, you run the risk of your project being rejected. It also helps to know the differences between unions if you plan to work with actors belonging to different unions (for example, Australia’s MEAA provides legal aid to its members).

How can I cast a union actor with Casting Networks?

When you create your project, you have the option to select the union status of the project. You will be required to select the specific contract type that your project has been filed under with the Union’s office. You’ll then need to note what contract you have with that union(s), your pending ID, etc. If further confirmation is required, Casting Networks may have to give the union a call to verify.

Now that you know more about actor unions and what’s required on your end to cast the right performers for your project, log into Casting Networks and start casting your next big project today!