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Joining the Unions: The When, Why, and How

As with so much in acting, timing is everything when joining Equity, SAG, or AFTRA. Is now the right time for you? When is it better to stay nonunion? What are the advantages of becoming a union member? How do you join? Get the answers straight from our panel of union reps.

Speakers include:
- Tom Miller, actor and staff of Actors' Equity Association
- Patricia Smith, SAG
- Victoria Pistone, AFTRA


Tom Miller
Prior to joining the staff of Actors' Equity Association, Tom Miller was an actor for more than 25 years, performing in national tours, regional theatre, Off Broadway shows, and Europe. Additionally, he performed with the Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Florida, the Carl Radcliff Dance Theatre, and at Opryland USA. As a director, his credits include Cabaret, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, a tour of Dames at Sea, and the Off-Off Broadway productions All I Ever Did Was Love Someone, Dark Snow, and SWAK.

For 12 years, Tom stage-managed A Very Special Evening, a benefit in support of the AT Children’s Project alternately starring Olympia Dukakis, Louis Zorich, and Priscilla Lopez. He can be seen in the documentary Show Business – The Road to Broadway hosting the opening night Gypsy Robe presentation. For more than a decade Tom was honored to serve as a voter for the annual Tony Awards. Recently he has served as a judge for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Scholarship Awards. He was a member of the National Council of Actors' Equity Association for 11 years. Tom is a graduate of Indiana University with a degree in Education.

Patricia Smith
Patricia Smith began her employment with the Screen Actors Guild in 1989. She started in the Signatory/ Production Department as the production assistant and later accepted a position in Membership Services, where she is currently the assistant supervisor. This has given her the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of professionals within the entertainment industry. Her extensive experience and knowledge has allowed her to represent the Guild at various informational and training seminars.

In 2006, she was honored with the Screen Actors Guild New York Excellence Award. Patricia is also an event planner and was commissioned by the Screen Actors Guild New York 75th Anniversary Committee to plan and design their 75th anniversary celebration. In 2009 she will be working with the event team for the SAG Awards.

Victoria Pistone
Victoria Pistone has been with AFTRA for six years. She originally started in their Broadcast Department where she helped AFTRA's news and radio personalities. During that time she founded the Broadcast Mentoring Program, where broadcasters get to help mentor college students interested in television and radio broadcasting.

In September 2006, she made the move from Broadcast to the Television department, where she is currently working as a field representative to some of AFTRA's programming in New York, including One Life to Live, Flight of the Conchords, and various others. She received her BA in 2001 from Rutgers University in Political Science and her MA from Rutgers in 2005 in Labor and Employment Relations.

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