How to Join
ACTRA is a union of professional performers standing together to negotiate fair pay, decent working conditions and respectful treatment in the workplace. We welcome new members and look forward to working with you as you develop your career as a performer.
We represent all kinds of performers working in recorded media including principal performers, actors, background performers, singers, dancers, puppeteers, voice performers, hosts, narrators, stunt performers, models and more.
ACTRA membership is open to Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents.
Once you join, you agree to abide by the member responsibilities laid out in ACTRA’s Constitution and By-Laws.
There are several ways to join ACTRA:
- New acting graduates can apply to become an Apprentice member within one (1) year of completing a course of studies from eligible schools and post-secondary schools and institutions.
- Land a qualifying role in a production under ACTRA’s jurisdiction and apply to become an Apprentice member.
- Become an ACTRA Additional Background Performer. Upon meeting the requirements, apply to become an Apprentice member.
- Join under the terms of a Reciprocal Agreement with one of our sibling unions, such as Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.
Apprentice members require Permits to work under ACTRA’s jurisdiction.
ACTRA National Council unanimously passed a series of amendments to the ACTRA National By-Laws with the objective of growing the membership and offering security and stability to professional performers across the country.
An overview of the amendments is outlined on our By-Law Changes FAQ page along with Frequently Asked Questions about what these changes mean for permittees and prospective members going forward.
Becoming a Full Member
An Apprentice member needs two more qualifying credits (a total of three) to become a Full member. There is no time limit between joining the Apprentice Program and becoming a Full member so long as you maintain your Apprentice membership and pay your annual fees.
When you purchase your third qualifying work permit, advise the Membership department that you want to become a Full member, then complete and submit an Application for Full Membership form and pay your initiation fee plus basic annual membership dues. Apprentice Members may deduct from their $1,600 Full membership fee: the cost of any qualifying Apprentice member credits used toward earning their Full membership and their initial Apprentice membership fee ($75).
Benefits of Full Membership
Full membership guarantees access to 80+ years of bargained benefits, RRSP contributions and professional development. ACTRA’s Full members in good standing:
- do not require Permits to work under ACTRA’s jurisdiction;
- gain the many rights and protections negotiated through ACTRA agreements, including minimum rates of pay;
- enjoy preference of engagement over all other non-member performers;
- participate in ratification votes for the ACTRA agreements they work under
- vote in ACTRA Toronto elections;
- play a direct role in governing their union by holding elected positions at ACTRA Toronto;
- receive health and insurance benefits through AFBS;
- participate in the free professional educational opportunities provided at ACTRA Toronto Member Conferences;
- are eligible to submit fellow performers or be nominated for the ACTRA Awards in Toronto; and,
- are eligible for consideration to join other performers’ unions under ACTRA’s reciprocal agreements.
Read our Full Member ACTRA Advantage FAQs
- Be part of the strongest cultural union in Canada: ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing over 15,000 of Canada’s 28,000 professional performers working in the English-language recorded media across the country. As an advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven organization that continues to secure rights and respect for the work of professional performers.
- Protections from working under ACTRA contracts and collective agreements: ACTRA Full members are paid fairly and on time not only for the recording of their performance but also for its use. Through the collective bargaining process, ACTRA members participate democratically in the decisions that determine their working terms and conditions and are protected against exploitation, harassment, abuse and other hazards in the workplace. They receive insurance and retirement benefits, access to an arts-friendly financial institution and many other benefits that flow from membership in a community of performers.
- Get noticed first: Full Members of ACTRA enjoy preference of engagement over all non-member performers.
- Have your say or a seat at the table: Full Members in good standing can participate in ratification votes for ACTRA agreements, vote in ACTRA Toronto Council elections, hold elected positions within ACTRA Toronto and ACTRA National, attend ACTRA Toronto’s free member conferences, and take advantage of discounts available exclusively to ACTRA members.
- Professional development: Members have access to free workshops, master classes and networking opportunities with fellow actors at ACTRA Toronto’s Members’ Conferences.
- Get involved: ACTRA Toronto Council has a variety of Committees created by and for its members to:
- Work on recurring branch initiatives (ex. Awards Committee, Conference Committee, Labour Day Committee);
- Report to Council on matters of concern specific to various membership categories (ex. ACTRA Additional Background Performer Caucus, Apprentice Caucus, Stunt Committee);
- Research complex issues and provide Council with recommendations for appropriate action (ex. Finance Committee); or
- Advocate for members whose work opportunities are restricted by ageism, racism and or sexism (e.g. Act Your Age, Child Performers, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, ACTRA Toronto Women’s Committee).
- Be part of a national and international cultural community and labour movement: Through media campaigns, lobbying and participation in local and international coalitions, ACTRA Toronto advocates for better cultural policies, a stronger film and television industry and more work opportunities for our members. ACTRA is a member of the International Federation of Actors (FIA); is affiliated to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC); participates in Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and Toronto & York Region Labour Council events (including the annual Toronto Labour Day Parade); and has a strategic alliance with the United Steelworkers (USW).
- Membership in a sibling organization: If you belong to a professional performers’ organization, such as Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA) or SAG-AFTRA, with which ACTRA has a reciprocal agreement, you may be eligible to join as a Full Member upon your first engagement in ACTRA’s jurisdiction. Please contact us for more information or visit actratoronto.com. If you are a member of a different sibling organization and would like information on how to join, please contact the membership department.
- ACTRA Apprentice Program: ACTRA’s Apprentice Program allows performers who are new to ACTRA to work on ACTRA sets and earn credits toward Full membership. Please contact us for more information or visit actratoronto.com.
- Only Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents are eligible to join ACTRA. As a condition of membership, all ACTRA members agree not to work on non-union productions.
To become a Full Member, the initiation fee is $1,600 plus $195 for basic annual membership dues.
If you are applying as an Apprentice Member, you may deduct from your $1,600 Full membership fee: the cost of any qualifying Apprentice member credits used toward earning your Full membership and your initial Apprentice membership fee ($75).
If you are applying as a Member of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA), you may deduct $475 reduction from your $1,600 Full membership fee.
Full Members pay working dues of 2.25% of gross earnings each year, up to a maximum of $4,000, in addition to basic annual membership dues ($195), which are invoiced every year in March.
- Perform in hundreds of different film and television productions shot in Toronto’s multi-billion-dollar-a-year film and television industry.
- Work in Canada’s biggest commercial production scene, where radio, television and digital media commercials are made for markets in Canada and around the world.
- Perform on air for both public- and private-sector broadcasters, including CBC TV and Radio, TVO, CTV and other Ontario-based networks and specialty channels.
- Appear in thousands of smaller productions every year – including corporate and web-based videos, independent productions, digital media and other recorded media.
Working as an actor is a challenging profession that requires discipline, commitment, continuous training and hard work. Performers are always competing for roles and know there is no such thing as a guaranteed part. Most have years of experience and have trained at top theatre schools. Their work experience includes theatre, television series, commercials and feature films. Bringing a character to life on screen can give you great joy and personal satisfaction – but it also entails personal sacrifices. Consider the commitments involved before you become an ACTRA member.