Update for SAG-AFTRA Members

Shaan Sharma
26 min readApr 28, 2020


by Shaan Sharma, LA Local Board Member
Audio Version HerePDF Version Here

Shaan Sharma, LA Local Board Member & Co-Chair of the LA Local Conservatory.

Dearest Brothers and Sisters of my creative family and our union,

Since the first moment I was invited into union leadership, I have consistently witnessed terrible, inept national leadership, corruption, cronyism, broken and antiquated systems, the political persecution of members, unproductive board and committee meetings, propaganda, waste of resources and time, lack of transparency, financial mismanagement, and a general lack of vision and concern for serving our members or our core mission.

It’s been hard at times, but I’m more committed than ever to fighting for what’s right. As union members, I believe it’s our duty and that’s why I’m writing to you today. I have very important news and information for you.

I wrote my first letter to our members in 2017, picked up by Deadline, in which I shared my discovery of political parties and infighting within our union. Then, last year, after two years deeply involved in our Local and National leadership, I sent a follow up letter sharing what I thought the main issues were, and suggested solutions to fix them. Between 15–20,000 members read and/or listened to it. To this day, not a single concern I raised has been disputed or addressed by our leadership.

As controversial as it may have been, judging by the LA Local election results, the members who voted share my concerns. Not only was I elected to the Local Board this time, but I came in 14th overall, with 4,291 votes, more than our National President Gabrielle Carteris herself.


First, though I may disagree with the actions of some of our leadership, I respect them as members, human beings, and artists. My critical feedback is only targeted at their union leadership behavior.

Second, I call out individuals, not groups, because our union’s issues are the result of just a handful of entitled, corrupt, and incompetent leaders. They publicly and voluntarily took on those roles of responsibility. We have every right to hold them accountable. There are wonderful people who run for election on the slates of the various political parties who do not deserve to be painted with the same brush.

Third, what follows is my opinion alone and does not necessarily speak for the union, other leaders, or any group with which I may be associated.

Finally, our President has decided to enter into negotiations with the AMPTP for our next TV/Theatrical contract this week. No matter how we may feel about her leadership, it is now the duty of every member of this union to support our Negotiating Committee 100%. None of the information or opinions expressed herein should be interpreted as a lack of our union’s SOLIDARITY. We may have differences in opinion about how our union is run, but we’re still a family, with one body, and one fist.

However, I felt it was imperative, and my duty, to inform you about what’s been going on, go on record with my objections, and so you understand why you haven’t heard more from your LA leadership, and why we haven’t been able to support you more during this crisis.

*And as an incentive for reading this all the way to the end, I’m including a jaw-dropping piece of information about something in our TV/Theatrical contract that you never knew existed and would want to know.

Before we begin, a quick primer on two key aspects of our union:

Just like the United States has 50 states, our union has 25 Locals. Every member of our union belongs to one of these 25 Locals, each of which have their own dedicated staff, Presidents, Boards, and Committees. These are the people that serve specific areas, in my case: Los Angeles.

We also have a National President, Board, and Committees. They exist to oversee, guide, and serve the union as a whole, not just one specific area.

Every two years in all 25 Local elections, we also elect over 400 Convention Delegates who then gather in Los Angeles to vote for an “Executive Vice President” and 7 other “Vice Presidents” who don’t have any official responsibilities but get to participate in National Board meetings.

Delegates also have the opportunity to write and submit “resolutions” that get voted on during the Convention. Resolutions are proposed actions or statements, and if a resolution is passed by a majority vote of the delegates it goes to the National Board for consideration. Passed resolutions are not binding and have no power. Apart from just a couple things, the National Board has all the power in our union.

Or, at least, it HAD all the power in our union:

Despite our members voting for change in the last LA Local election, our increasingly unpopular National President Gabrielle Carteris ignored the will of the voters and effectively installed her unelected political party members into top positions of leadership anyway. Then she removed people she views as political threats from national leadership positions, and has spent the last 8 months suppressing the LA Local, causing an open state of conflict between your elected Los Angeles leadership and the national officers and executive staff of our union.

Then, when the coronavirus hit, she took the unbelievable, authoritarian, and, now clearly unnecessary step of indefinitely suspending our national board, keeping it secret from the membership, and consolidating all the power into a small group called the National Executive Committee that doesn’t represent half of our Locals and contains many of her unelected political party insiders. The Executive Committee granted her virtually dictatorial power over our union. For all intents and purposes, we are now officially a dictatorship.

Worst of all, she has prevented all Local leaders and committees from serving our members in efforts to ensure that she and her political allies are the only faces our members see, and try to increase her popularity. No one is allowed to do anything unless she considers it “necessary and essential.” It is the most cynical example of electioneering on the back of a crisis to try to maintain power and the opposite of empowering, effective, and unifying leadership. This full report provides all the details.

BOTTOM LINE: You elected us to fight for you and make things better. Gabrielle has seized total control & shut the rest of us down.


In our union election last fall the members of the LA Local essentially and overwhelmingly voted out the Unite For Strength (UFS) political party, led by Gabrielle Carteris, which lost the majority, and thus control, of the LA Boardroom for the first time in over a decade.

Gabrielle’s support went down 7% since 2017, winning reelection for President with only 13,537 members (44%) voting for her and 17,193 members (56%) voting against her. If the opposition vote hadn’t been split between Jane Austin and Matthew Modine she likely would not have won. (2019 LA election results)

Almost every member of her UFS inner circle was not elected by the LA members, including: Clyde Kusatsu, Ellen Crawford, Woody Schultz, Ben Whitehair (who’s never been elected), and William “Bill” Charlton, who even failed to be elected as one of LA’s 141 Convention Delegates, (coming in 202nd).

Despite the will of the voters, and as I predicted in my 2019 letter to the members, Gabrielle effectively installed each of them in positions of power anyway:

  • Clyde Kusatsu as National Vice President — Largest Local (at Convention)
  • Ellen Crawford as LA Local Board member (given Michelle Hurd’s seat)
  • Woody Schultz as LA Local Board member (given Gabrielle’s seat)
  • Ben Whitehair as LA Local Board member (given Kate Flannery’s seat) and as National Board member (given Camryn Manheim’s seat)
  • Bill Charlton as National Vice President — Actor/Performer. (at Convention)
    Even though only delegates are allowed to attend our Convention, Gabrielle made a special exception for her enforcer Bill, perverting the rules inviting him as her “guest”, and allowing him to attend the delegate-only mixer, where only delegates mingle and campaign for national positions.

    She then had Bill nominated and voted in as Actor/Performer National VP. Since he hadn’t been elected as a delegate, he wasn’t eligible for being given a seat by a resigning board member, making this ploy the only way she could get him into the National Boardroom. This was blatant cronyism and an abuse of power. No one is allowed to invite “guests.”

Here are lists of all LA National and Local Board resignations and replacements since 2013. You’ll see some recurring names.

The President is responsible for choosing who serves on the National Committees, where the detailed work of the union is done. The committees report to the National Board members who then discuss and vote on their recommendations.

After the last election, Gabrielle removed 25% of the qualified and highly elected members from Los Angeles who opposed her in the election from serving in key National Committee positions, including ones overseeing our governance and election reform, our budgets, our lobbying of state and federal governments, member education, and our relationship with agencies, among others, crippling their proper function by stifling innovation and removing diversity of opinion and constructive dissent.

Someone should remind President Carteris what she said in the SAG-AFTRA podcast, titled “DEFINING OUR FUTURE” at 32:47:

“I think, actually, differences of opinion lead us to be stronger. I always say when I put together a committee, or when I’m putting together a group of members, I don’t want everybody to be like-minded, because we’re not really challenging ourselves maybe to the next level if we’re always agreeing.“

The 5 members on the most National Committees are Woody Schultz (13 committees), Bill Charlton (8), Clyde Kusatsu (8), Ben Whitehair (8), and Ron Morgan (8), all part of Gabrielle’s UFS political party and inner circle.

Not a single one of them was elected to either the Local or National board, and 2 of them were not even elected as Convention Delegates. Whereas hundreds of interested members, including highly elected and qualified ones, are on zero committees, and many members wanting to volunteer were turned away because their desired committee was “full.”

Being on even one active committee can easily be a full-time commitment. Consolidating so much responsibility into so few hands slows down the progress of the union. It’s not reasonable to expect one person to handle that much responsibility well. As a result of this kind of “control-freak leadership,” many of our committees don’t meet often enough, or at all, and so their important work does not get done.

It’s not necessary to give a few members so much power when we have hundreds of qualified and hard-working members interested in volunteering. It’s also really disingenuous to send our members emails every election year inviting them to serve on National committees only to shut them out with no response and give so many seats to her few friends and political allies. Committee positions shouldn’t be used as party favors or rewards. We need the most qualified people to serve, because effective committees are the lifeblood of our union’s work.

The LA Local members voted them out, but Gabrielle forced her unelected political party members on us anyway. This, and other actions, have created an open state of conflict between our LA Local elected leadership and our national leadership.

One example:

In late 2018, the LA Local was presented with an opportunity to move into the newly available 2nd floor of our National Headquarters building to finally have its own dedicated office space, including a classroom and self-taping rooms. For years, the lack of our own space has been a major issue, stunting the growth of many essential member programs, like our growing Conservatory, and making it difficult for LA committees to meet.

When Gabrielle became aware of this, the LA Local was suddenly stopped from moving in to and using the space, despite having spent tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and construction completed on the classroom. Meanwhile, we paid for it to sit empty almost all year.

Then, after the election, Gabrielle denied the LA Local’s request and gave the space to the national communications staff, which she uses as her personal PR firm, and, without approval by the national board, nor any consultation with the LA Local Board, took the rest of the space to create what she’s calling her “Imagination Center” for her podcast and a video recording studio.

To the LA Local, it was an open act of political retaliation and suppression. Since we voted her people out and she didn’t control LA anymore, she was going to punish us for it.

Did you know that the LA Local does not have even one room that it can use without asking permission from National staff, who are under her control? Our Local has half the members of our union, about 82,000, earns 57% of the union’s revenue, and yet we were denied our own office space in our own union’s building in our own city, which we rent for over $6 million a year.

When the COVID-19 crisis emerged in early March, at first, appropriately, all in-person meetings and programming were stopped due to the important social distancing guidelines and stay home order. But then, unnecessarily, all Local activity was shut down without any explanation to Local members or staff. No online events, no committee meetings, or even Local board meetings have been allowed, with one very recent exception, more than a month into this pandemic, of an online LA Local Board meeting on Monday, April 20th, that we had to fight for, and had to submit our agenda to Gabrielle in advance so she could decide if it was “necessary and essential.” As of today, that continues to be the policy.

Instead of unleashing the creativity, energy, and leadership of our hundreds of Local board and committee members across the country, and while our members are literally dying, we’ve all been sidelined and prohibited from doing anything to help. I cannot overstate how offensive and unacceptable this is to me and your LA leadership. We are not being allowed to do what we were elected to do: take care of our members. Our union had one shot to get this right, and Gabrielle blew it.

Mid-March, an unofficial petition representing how our members are feeling with over 11,000 signatures emerged on change.org asking Gabrielle for the following relief:

1) Expand health coverage to more members.
“We respectfully request a reduction in the prerequisite number of days/earnings required to achieve healthcare for 2021.”

2) Waive or reduce April Dues
“In consideration of the coronavirus pandemic, payment of member base dues of $109.30 (currently due on April 30, 2020) should be waived or lessened to reflect the lack of work and, therefore lack of income, in the present situation.”

3) Postpone dues payment deadlines until the end of the crisis.
“The April 2020 dues payments should not be required by April 30 of this year, but resumed at future date assuming that measurable progress is made in resolving the crisis, and that production resumes following this dues period.”

4) Reduce the additional amount owed over base dues.
“We ask that this dues period, SAG-AFTRA members should only be liable to pay the 1.575% of all covered earnings up to $500,000, based on actual earnings reported in the immediately preceding calendar year.”

In response, Gabrielle put out this statement calling it a scam and accusing the petitioners of “pirating” the SAG-AFTRA logo. Her statement addressed none of the requests.

As of April 27th:

(1) the health plan did not reduce the qualification criteria that would expand health coverage to more members. The health plan has announced free COVID-19 testing and a 50% reduction in April premiums for members currently covered only, though, bizarrely, new members joining the plan after March 1st, and seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes, were excluded. On top of that qualifications for earning union healthcare actually increased this year to $18k for Plan II and $35k for Plan I.

(2) & (4) SAG-AFTRA decided not to waive or reduce dues, but did announce a payment plan and (3) postponement of the dues due date to July 1st for half and October 1st for the remaining half.

When other entertainment unions have waived or reduced dues for their members, our members absolutely deserved more support and a better response to their requests. Our President’s idea of support has been to tell us to go elsewhere for help, like the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the state and federal government.

Did you know SAG-AFTRA spends over $6 million per year renting our national headquarters in LA, while every other entertainment union owns its own building and can tap its equity during times of need?

Or that we spent over a million dollars renting out the Beverly Hilton Hotel for our disastrously run national Convention last October, with hundreds of thousands of dollars (our dues) spent on useless swag, and a $150 per ticket gala themed “Casino Unconvent!onale!,” with casino games and custom SAG-AFTRA poker chip keychains and decks of cards? Or that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on lavish parties, private dinners, and excessive travel with inflated entourages by national member leaders and executive staff?

Meanwhile, thousands of us have lost, and continue to lose, work, health insurance, and retirement income over recent years. If our national leadership had been spending our resources more wisely, we would be in a better position to financially support our members today.

On March 23rd, The Hollywood Reporter published an article about Gabrielle and how she’s doing during this crisis, using our union’s communications department, once again, as her personal PR firm.

Virtually our entire membership is terrified, unemployed, and fighting for their lives. You just insulted thousands of us by denying our petition for healthcare and dues relief, and you really think the question on everyone’s mind is: “How are YOU doing, Gabrielle?”

The timing of this article could not have been worse nor could its tone be any more deaf. It’s profoundly and stunningly self-serving. Which makes her next unacceptable actions shocking but not surprising:

The next day, on March 24th, it was leaked to the press that Gabrielle, by email vote of the national board, had suspended our union’s national board and transferred all its authority to her 38 member National Executive Committee (EC), which does not represent 12 of our 25 Locals, and with 6 members who were not elected by their Local’s members, including, yet again, Clyde, Ben, and Bill. (Full list at the bottom.)

This was done under confidentiality and without the knowledge of Local leadership or the membership. If it weren’t for the press exposing it, we may never have known. Our members still have not been informed about this incredible consolidation of power and suspension of our democracy.

Then, three days later on March 27th, she had the Executive Committee transfer virtually all of its authority to her. So, in the span of a week, she used our staff to promote herself in the press and then seized total control of our union. If any US President did that, especially taking advantage of a crisis like the current pandemic, there would be civil war.

Let’s take a look at the Executive Committee and how she did it:

12 of our 25 Locals are not represented on the Executive Committee:
Those are: Portland (941 members), San Diego (1,370), Arizona-Utah (1,079), New Mexico (896), Colorado (641), Houston-Austin (1,135), Missouri Valley (970), New Orleans (855), Michigan (882), Ohio-Pittsburgh (1,567), Nashville (1,496), and Philadelphia (2,845).

This totals 14,677 members without any elected representation during this health and economic crisis, next year’s budget review and approval, and our upcoming TV/Theatrical contract negotiation.

Gabrielle and her political allies in other Locals already control the majority of the national board seats, and these actions essentially consolidated their control into a smaller, tighter group of themselves while removing and disempowering dissenting voices, due process, and oversight by half our Locals and the other national board members.

Her resolution gave the National Executive Committee the powers to conduct all business of the National Board on its behalf, including power over our union’s budget, all aspects of negotiations, approving contracts, and postponing national board meetings indefinitely.

There is no sunset clause, end date, or criteria for when power would be given back to our National Board, which is baffling when the State of California’s official emergency period is set to end on May 31st, and the City of Los Angeles’ Stay Home Order is set to end on May 15th.

Most concerning of all is that there is no way for the National Board to reclaim its authority. If Gabrielle doesn’t call for an email vote on it, or allow the National Board to meet, it can not take its power back.

Suspending the union’s national representational body is an extremely undemocratic and authoritarian action to take. No other union has done anything like it. So, was such an action reasonable or necessary?

Absolutely not.

Here are the three main excuses she gave to justify her actions.

Zoom, our union’s chosen platform, allows up to 1,000 participants, and can livestream to up to 10,000. Our national board has 79 members. Even with union support staff, that’s well beneath what Zoom can handle. Gabrielle’s political party UFS has been holding large Zoom meetings, but apparently our national board can’t?

Not knowing how to use the “Waiting Room” feature to ID and only admit approved persons, set a meeting password, mute participants, and use the “Raise Hand” feature is no excuse to suspend our democracy. Everyone, from corporations to kindergartens are effectively using it.

If that were true, then the Executive Committee and our TV/Theatrical Negotiation Committee would not currently be meeting online using Zoom, but they are. All our union’s meetings have been and are still taking place via Zoom. They are certainly not taking place in person.

Our union may be the first case in history where a democracy was overthrown over not knowing how to use basic video chat software.

The only impediment preventing our national board from meeting was a constitutional requirement that those meetings have to be held in-person. A simple constitutional change would have addressed that, done with a similar email vote of the national board and a 30 day written notice to the 25 Locals. When your real objective is to seize power, it’s no surprise why that wasn’t done instead.

Our Constitution was written to handle moments like this :

“Article V. National Board

Section E. Quorum and Voting

Paragraph 1. Quorum” (the minimum number of members that must be present at meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid.)

“Article V.(E)(1)

One-third (1/3) of the votes and one-third (1/3) of the members of the National Board, including at least one (1) member from each of the two largest Locals, one (1) member from the Mid-sized Locals and one (1) member from the Small Locals, shall constitute a quorum for convening and transacting business at a National Board meeting.”

The total number of National Board members is currently 79.
The minimum number of National Board members needed to be present to conduct business is 27.

That’s smaller than the Executive Committee’s 38 members (24 voting members, 14 alternates) and we’d get to keep our representative system of governance in place, in which all our Locals and members would have representation.

Our Constitution says in: “Article V.©(2)(u)
(the National Board shall have the following specific powers:)

To delegate its authority…except that the following matters designated in this subparagraph V(C)(2) shall not be delegable: a. (financial plan),…”

“Article V.©(2)(a)” states:

“a. To adopt the Union’s financial plan and budget;”

Our Constitution clearly states that the National Board cannot delegate our financial plan and budget to the Executive Committee. They are arguably the same thing, are listed on the same line of Constitutional language, and there is no definition of either “financial plan” or “budget” in our Constitution that distinguishes them as different.

None of our Locals have their own bank accounts or get to keep and use their own members’ dues money. Every penny collected goes in to the union’s general fund managed by the National Finance Committee and staff. Every year, each Local has to submit a budget request to the National Finance Committee for approval, which is then approved by the National Board. Our Locals’ budget requests for the next fiscal year of 2021 were due in April and have not yet been approved — which makes the timing of this power-grab all the more distressing and controversial.

National Board members would be justified in feeling pressured to approve the transfer of power to the Executive Committee out of concern for their Local’s budget, especially without National Board oversight and a committee that excludes representatives from 12 of our 25 Locals.

Again, Gabrielle and her political party already control the majority of the national board members, so the resolution was sure to pass anyway. The vote was conducted confidentially, via email, with two business days to respond and only she and the national officers, all of whom are members of her political party and control the finance committee, would see how each board member voted.

Rules exist precisely for moments like this, when there may be a temptation to violate them in the name of expediency. You don’t need rules for when things are fine and doing the right thing is easy.

Ours is one of the most influential and visible unions in the world, representing the most famous artists and faces. A former President of our union has gone on to become President of the United States. The current President of the United States is a member. How our union is run matters. The rules matter, especially ones meant to protect our voice in leadership. Our livelihoods and dreams are at stake.

Our Constitution only gives us one remedy; that if we get a petition signed by 10% of the members in good standing, which, at this time, is probably less than 15,000 members, we can force a vote (referendum) of the members on whether to cancel this resolution, alter it, or even remove our current President from office.

But that’s a lot of mobilization for a community, nation, and world in crisis. Which is also why the timing of this, how unnecessary it is, and the way it has been done feels particularly cynical and unfair. If we don’t start a petition, our only other remedy is to vote for new leadership in next year’s election.

If Gabrielle and her political allies and insiders, many of whom have been in unchallenged positions of leadership for decades across this country, had been running our union well, fairly, in the spirit of unity and compromise, listening to and valuing dissenting voices, and putting what’s best for the union above petty and destructive politics, then maybe I would be reacting differently. That still wouldn’t justify these actions, but maybe I wouldn’t be so worried.

But they have not, and we need to mobilize to make a national change.

And, as I stated in my last letter, you can’t just change the President and expect things to change. All the power usually rests in the hands of the Boards, both Local and National. If we want change, we have to change the makeup of the board. We succeeded with the LA Board, but it was thrown in our face. So, now it’s time to change up the National Board.

Get to know who your current National Board members are: talk to them, write to them, ask them tough questions about what’s happening in our union, and decide whether you believe they are honest, care about our members, and deserve our support. Many run and win unopposed, and are arrogant and entitled. So, consider running for their office yourself.

Here’s where they’re listed on SAGAFTRA.org, though what Local they are from is not listed (why?), so I’ve done so at the bottom of this letter.

Our union belongs to us, the members, not Gabrielle, not her cronies, and not even the national board members we elected to serve us.

We have to educate ourselves, get involved, vote wisely in next year’s election, and empower new leaders who will listen to our voices and serve us, instead of forcing their voices on us and serving themselves.

Once again, for the next few weeks and for the sake of our union, we must support our TV/Theatrical negotiating committee so we have the best chance of securing a better contract. But, when that process is over, we will be lined up and ready to fight for the right to support our members, to restore our democracy, and address our leadership issues.

I wish you safety, health, and courage for the fights ahead, both for our lives and for our dreams. We can’t fail if we never quit.

Shaan Sharma
SAG-AFTRA LA Local Board Member



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Instagram: @shaan_sharma | Twitter: @shaansharma


Gabrielle Carteris (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
Chair/President (LA Local)
(Elected National President, Local, and National Board. One month after election, gave her National Board seat to Stacey Travis, who came in 32nd overall, or 16th runner up, and resigned her Local Board seat and gave it to Woody Schultz, who came in 59th overall, or 18th runner up.)

Rebecca Damon (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY) Executive Vice President & President of the New York Local

Camryn Manheim (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
Secretary-Treasurer (LA Local)
(Elected to Secretary-Treasurer and National Board. One month after election, gave her National Board seat to Ben Whitehair, who did not run for National Board, and was not elected to LA Local Board, coming in 61st overall, or 20th runner up.)

Clyde Kusatsu (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Vice President of LA Local
(Not elected by our LA members to Local Vice President, Local, or National Board, but elected at Convention by the LA Delegates.)

Liz Zazzi (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY)
National Vice President, New York

Michele Proude (Political Party Affiliation: USNE (Pro-UFS in NE)
National Vice President, Mid-Sized Locals (New England Local)

Suzanne Burkhead
National Vice President, Small Locals (Dallas/Ft Worth Local)

William “Bill” Charlton (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Vice President, Actors/Performers
(Not elected by our LA members to Local Board or LA Delegate, making him ineligible to be chosen as a replacement for a resigning LA Local or National Board member. Did not run for National Board.)

Bob Butler
National Vice President, Broadcasters (San Francisco Local)

Dan Navarro (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Vice President, Recording Artists/Singers (LA Local)

Joanna Cassidy (Political Party Affiliation: MF)
National Board Member — LA Local

Joe D’Angerio (Political Party Affiliation: MF)
National Board Member — LA Local
(Martin Sheen’s resignation replacement one month after election. Did not run for National Board.)

Nancy Duerr
National Board Member — Miami Local

Abby Dylan
National Board Member — Seattle Local

Hal Eisner (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Board Member — LA Local

David Jolliffe (Political Party Affiliation: MF)
National Board Member & 2nd Vice President of the LA Local

Ezra Knight (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY)
National Board Member — NY Local

Jodi Long (Political Party Affiliation: MF)
National Board Member — LA Local

Bill Mootos (Political Party Affiliation: USNE (Pro-UFS in NE)
National Board Member — New England Local

Jenny O’Hara (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Board Member — LA Local

Janice Pendarvis (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY) National Board Member — NY Local

Patricia Richardson (Political Party Affiliation: MF)
National Board Member & President of the LA Local

Scott Rogers
National Board Member — Hawaii Local

Jeff Spurgeon (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY)
National Board Member — NY Local

Alternates (attend the meetings and vote for absent full members):

Randal Berger
National Board Member — Twin Cities Local

Maureen Donnelly (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY) National Board Member — NY Local

Debbie Evans (Political Party Affiliation: MF)
National Board Member — LA Local

Ilyssa Fradin
National Board Member — Chicago Local

Jason George (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Board Member — LA Local

Michelle Hurd (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Board Member — LA Local
(Not elected to LA President, but was elected to the LA Local Board and immediately resigned two weeks after the election and gave her seat to Ellen Crawford, who came in 55th overall, or 14th runner up.

**She ran for President of the LA Local but lost. She was elected as a Local Board member, but she gave away her Local Board seat — something for LA members to consider if she ever runs again.)

Adrian Martinez (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY) National Board Member — NY Local

Debra Nelson (Political Party Affiliation: USA (Pro-UFS in Atlanta)
National Board Member — Atlanta Local

Linda Powell (Political Party Affiliation: USAN (Pro-UFS in NY)
National Board Member — NY Local

Jasper Randall (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Board Member — LA Local
(Dan Navarro‘s resignation replacement after 2019 Convention. Did not run for National Board.)

Susan Snyder
National Board Member — Washington-Mid-Atlantic Local

Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Political Party Affiliation: MF)
National Board Member — LA Local

Stacey Travis (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Board Member — LA Local
(Not elected, was given seat by Gabrielle Carteris)

Ben Whitehair (Political Party Affiliation: UFS)
National Board Member — LA Local
(Not elected, was given seat by Camryn Manheim)


Board members’ private contact information is not publicly available, but to contact them, just email their Local staff. They will pass it on to them.

Local Admin: lisha.brock@sagaftra.org
Margie Ghigo

Debra Nelson

John Carter Brown
Ilyssa Fradin

Local Admin: julie.crane@sagaftra.org
Sheila Ivy Traister

Hector Garcia

Scott Rogers

Local Admin: trish.avery@sagaftra.org
Pamela Weaver

Edward Asner
Jane Austin
Jennifer Beals
Yvette Nicole Brown
Neve Campbell
Joanna Cassidy
Joe d’Angerio
Hal Eisner
Debbie Evans-Leavitt
Greg Evigan
Marie Fink
Frances Fisher
Jason George
Lamonte Goode
Elliott Gould
Michelle Hurd
David Jolliffe
Diane Ladd
Jodi Long
Matthew Modine
Esai Morales
Jenny O’Hara
Robert Pine
Jasper Randall
Patricia Richardson
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Stacey Travis
Ben Whitehair

Nancy Duerr

Local Admin: william.hendrickson@sagaftra.org
Peter Tocco

Rodger A. Brand

Andrew Caple-Shaw

Local Admin: cynthia.williams@sagaftra.org
Steve Dressler

NEW ENGLAND newengland@sagaftra.org
Bill Mootos

Local Admin: julie.crane@sagaftra.org
Mel MacKaron

Local Admin: lisha.brock@sagaftra.org
Olga Wilhelmine

Nitasha Bhambree
Maureen Donnelly
Nick Fondulis
Traci Godfrey
Stephen McKinley Henderson
Phoebe Jonas
Ezra Knight
Elaine LeGaro
Vincent Pastore
Janice Pendarvis
Jay Potter
Linda Powell
Cheri Preston
Sarah Seeds
Jeff Spurgeon

Local Executive Director: brian.lysell@sagaftra.org
Stoney Richards

Mike Kraycik

Mary McDonald-Lewis

Local Admin: cynthia.williams@sagaftra.org
Don Ahles

Don Sanchez
Rob Schneider

Abby Dylan

Local Admin: william.hendrickson@sagaftra.org
Randal Berger

Joe Krebs
Susan Jeanne Snyder


You’ve never done this in your life, but please do this now. Trust me. It’s going to be worth it. Click here to see our 814 page Theatrical Contract.

Scroll to page 251 of the contract, which is page 268 of the PDF. Read sections 14 labeled “INTERVIEWS” and 15 labeled “AUDITIONS, TESTS.”

Now look specifically at 15(B.). Yes, it means exactly what it looks like.

TL; DR: The way our contract is written, if you are NOT given material ahead of time, and your appointment is NOT recorded in any way, it is called an INTERVIEW. You’re not entitled to get paid for an INTERVIEW.

If you ARE given material (sides) ahead of time, and/or you ARE recorded, it is considered an AUDITION or TEST, and if you are NOT hired for the project, you are entitled to a half-day of pay, currently $502.50.

That’s right. Every time you’ve ever auditioned for a project under this contract, which is all network TV, studio features, and more, and were not hired, you were entitled to a half-day’s pay. It’s been in the contract longer than most of us have been alive. We just didn’t know and have not been enforcing it.

Imagine how much more respected you would feel if, every time you got an audition that required you to prepare material, you knew that regardless of whether you booked the job or not, you were going to get paid over $500. Imagine how that would make productions think twice before wasting your time. Imagine how much more time casting would spend with you in the room if they knew they were paying you anyway.

The amount of time it takes to prepare for auditions to the best of our ability, get dressed and made up, drive across town, or produce a self-tape can be immense. Our union was founded by the stars of the day, who negotiated terms like this to protect the value of our art and time.

I’m not saying we should start enforcing this right away, but imagine if 100,000 actors filed claims based on this provision. What kind of negotiating power would that give us in a future negotiation?

The fact that we were never told about this by our leadership shows you exactly how feckless our union’s leadership has been, for a long time.

Our art has value. It’s time we fight for it.


On that note, our union could help our brothers and sisters of the WGA win their fight against the ATA (Association of Talent Agents) with regards to the conflicts of interest of agencies producing and being paid packaging fees if we just ended our 2002 suspension of SAG Rule 16(g), Section II, which would require our members to fire our non-franchised agents just like the WGA members did, but our national leadership has lacked the care or courage to do so for over a year.

Guess who the Chair of our National Professional Representatives (Agents) Committee is, which advises our National Board on these issues:

Bill Charlton…




Shaan Sharma

Actor, Union Leader, Educator, Casting pro, Writer, and Technologist. https://linktr.ee/shaan_sharma