Madeline Fallon on the Actors Equity Association

On Friday Mar. 21, Madeleine Fallon arrived on campus to hold a talkback with Millikin students in the Department of Theatre and Dance. As the 4th Vice Chair of the Actors Equity Association, Fallon gave the students insight to what they can expect from joining a union in their future professional careers.

“When you leave here and you go out into the world as an actor,” Fallon said, “Each of you is going to be the proprietor of a small business; that small business being you. You’re going to be in charge of marketing and cash flow and taxes and healthcare which are all scary things.”

While there are certainly many myths that go around about pros and cons of joining Equity, Fallon sought to present clear facts to the students to better prepare them for the future. She spoke about the many benefits that joining the union can have including enforcing theatre contracts, helping to settle professional working environment disputes, and providing helpful workshops for actors.

In the past, these member driven workshops have covered a variety of topics including a recent series of three instructional sessions on solo performances. In these workshops, the first was geared towards how to  get the process started, the second involving performance and professional feedback, and the third instructing how to get a work produced.

“We’ve done all kinds of different ones,” Fallon said, “and we’ll continue to do them based on what different members tell us they want.”

In addition to the perks of these various amenities, Fallon discussed the importance of them, including the Voluntary Income Tax Assistant (VITA) service that Equity offers its members.

“Doing taxes for actors is very different than doing taxes for other professions,” Fallon said. “Actors who work a lot are very susceptible to audits, because when you have a bunch of W2 forms that rings a bell with the IRS and they think there’s something wrong. Then they’re going to take a harder look and say ‘you can’t deduct for makeup and dance lessons.’ Well yes you can. That’s part of what we do.”

By providing information such as this, as well as the truth behind a vast variety of rumors, Fallon provided a certain level of comfort and preparedness to many students who will soon become immersed in the professional theatre world.

“I didn’t really know specifics about Equity before, so I think it helped me understand how much Equity has to offer,” sophomore musical theatre major Shayla Rogers said. “It was really nice to realize, you know, Equity’s not that scary.”

With the new knowledge that they gained form this experience, hopefully Millikin students in the theatre department feel more comfortable to begin their professional careers in the industry.