An Open Message To The Alliance of Professional Performers NW From Outgoing Board Member Harold Phillips

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Dear Alliance of Professional Performers NW Members

More than four years ago I was lucky enough to attend a Portland AFTRA meeting. At that meeting an audacious idea was brought forth – that all performers in our region, union and not-union, deserved the same basic standards in their workplaces. Since that first meeting it’s been my privilege to play a role in the formation and growth of the Alliance of Professional Performers NW. The time has come, however, for me to step back from the board and join you as a member-at-large.

I know that with the election of the 2015 Board of Directors, our movement is in very good hands. That being said, it’s important to remember that the Board is not APP-NW. APP-NW is us – the members of the organization… and we members all have to do our part to keep the organization growing and effective. Not everyone has the time or temperament for Board service, but all of us can do a few simple things to help fulfill APP-NW’s mission of protecting performers and strengthening professionalism within our regional industry.

·         We can spread the word about the organization – whether we’re at an audition or on set, we can all talk to our fellow performers about this movement. It’s as simple as asking a fellow performer, “have you heard about APP-NW?” You might be worried that you’re not prepared to answer your fellow performers’ questions about the movement – but downloading a copy of our information cards (http://www.app-nw.org/?page_id=75) will help you with that!

·         We can wear our APP-NW buttons – Those pins you get at Actors Happy Hour aren’t just a way to get discounts on your drinks – they’re a visual reminder to the world that you’re a professional. People who see those buttons can expect you to be a professional on the job – and they know that you deserve to be treated as a professional in the workplace.

·         We can talk to each other, and we can look out for each other – As the saying goes, “if you see something, say something.” Too often, though, performers are afraid to speak up when they’re put in dangerous situations or when they know someone in the industry doesn’t deal fairly with those s/he works with. We’re trained to trust our fellow cast members when the cameras roll or the curtain goes up on our performances – be worthy of that trust off the set, too. Stand together and make sure your fellow performers are safe.

·         We can ask for what we deserve – When a director or producer says s/he wants to work with you, thank them and then ask, “does your production conform to APP-NW Standards?” (http://www.app-nw.org/?page_id=13) It’s as simple as that. Chances are, this director or producer will say, “yes, of course” – because APP-NW standards are just common-sense standards that everyone should have in their workplace. If they say no, however, ask, “why not?” Find out what s/he finds so disagree-able, and then educate him or her. You know why a performer needs a place to lock up his or her valuables, a meal, a place to sit down… help this producer or director understand why these basic requirements are so important.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you – this last one isn’t so “simple.”

·         Say “No” – This is often the hardest thing for a performer to do – but it’s also the only power we, as performers, have. If you’re a union member and you’re asked to work “off the card” or to go “Fi-Core,” say “No.” Union or not, when you’re offered a position that doesn’t meet your personal standards, say “No.” When you hear that one of your fellow performers turned down a job because it didn’t conform to basic APP-NW standards, say “No.”

I know… I know! Performers are often afraid to say “No,” because they’re afraid they won’t work again… because they’re afraid they’ll get a “reputation.” Consider this, though – the reputation a performer gets by saying “No” is the reputation that s/he has standards… that s/he won’t compromise those standards merely for a chance to work, or for an IMDB credit, or a few dollars in the pocket. A performer like that has integrity, and integrity draws the type of people a performer wants to work with. Integrity makes people enjoy being on set with a performer. Integrity makes audiences want to see a performer. As performers, we don’t have a lot of control in our careers… but we do have control over our integrity.

Remember, the Alliance of Professional Performers NW is all about helping performers – and just like we stand together on the set, we have to stand together as we work to realize APP-NW’s mission. If everyone in the membership works together, we can improve and increase professionalism in the Northwest market – and we can make sure that our industry is fair and equitable for everyone working in it.

Harold

http://www.haroldphillips.net

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