Friday, June 3, 2016


Signing up at Actors' Equity

Easy now.
Hush, love, hush.
Don't distress yourself,
What's your rush?
Keep your thoughts
Nice and lush.

This week, I went to the Equity Membership department and signed myself up!  To say I have been waiting and hoping to get my Equity card for a while now is an understatement.  It does not come easy.  And nor should it.

Before I went, my friend Toni Stanton (an Equity business rep) was so excited for me and wanted to meet me and come with me to see me make it official.  I met her at her office and we went down to the membership department together and the lovely John Fasulo (National Director of Membership) came out to congratulate me.

Toni and I were in a short play in a festival off-off Broadway years ago when I first moved here. I first met John at an E.M.C. (Equity Membership Candidate) meeting and he was so informative and supportive. I've kept in touch with both of them over the years.

They both know, in depth, (as does anyone who will listen!) about my struggles with immigration and Equity.  The first thing Toni said to me was "You got your Green card and five minutes later you're getting your Equity card!"

In many respects it was relatively fast.  Just a few months. But in reality, it has been seven years of hard work in the making.

I gave up my full time teaching job in 2008 (I had been a high school drama teacher for eleven years). I thought I would be married with children but God had another plan for me.

Giving up and moving to another country and a city like New York was terrifying and wonderful. I still pinch myself when I walk home and pass Grand Central and The Chrysler Building.

Job hunting when Backstage was still in newspaper form.

Hush, love, hush.
Think it through.
Once it bubbles, 
Then what's to do?
Watch it close.
Let it brew.

I've been thinking, flowers--
Maybe daisies--
To brighten up the room.
Don't you think some flowers,
Pretty daisies,
Might relieve the gloom?
Ah, wait, love, wait.

I came on an F1 student visa in 2008 (to study at HB Studio) not sure if this would just be a gap year for a 33 year old in crisis, but quickly knew I wanted to stay and WORK. HB was where I first met Austin Pendleton and took his class. He does not believe that I sat quietly at the back during that first semester. I sat and listened and learned. During my second year of full-time study, I starting pounding the pavement. Knowing nothing! Excited and scared. I went to my first EPA, thanks to encouragement from the wonderful Amanda Quaid.

I first met Judy Bowman (casting director) in May 2012 at The Network. But it is not as simple as meeting once: you have to build a relationship and keep auditioning.
There are so many ways. EPAs, ECCs, appointment auditions, pay to plays, submissions, Stagelighter, and so on. Training, auditions, keeping in touch, working, working, working. It is a long journey with many ups and downs.  There are people who succeed without doing any of it. And there are people who fail while trying to do it all.

I have learned that we are never auditioning for one person or one job. This business seems so big but it's actually very small and people talk. I've been submitting to The Mint and met Jonathan Bank (Artistic Director) a few times and he is a delight. I also went to see plays there and was always impressed by them.  I was in callbacks in the past for The Mint for a role I really wanted. It was tough not to get it, but it was not for me. This is the role that has my name on it.
"A Day by the Sea"

But if I had not built the relationships over the years, I am not sure I would even have been able to get in the room.

I don't think of myself as a patient person. I am genuinely happy for friends' success but, of course, there is an element of jealousy when seeing others succeed.  It has not been easy and no one should think that it is. We have chosen a tough business and there are obstacles everywhere. The immigration obstacle was huge but I am grateful. It made me tougher, stronger and more determined. I have found ways to keep myself motivated and passionate. Having to turn down Equity work in the past and deal with rejection has made this all the sweeter. As my mother often tells me: Whit's fur ye'll no go by ye!

My first Equity Card

with Toni Stanton and John Fasulo at A.E.A.

Slow, love, slow.

Time's so fast.
Now goes quickly--
See, now it's past!
Soon will come.
Soon will last.

Don't you know,

Silly man,
Half the fun is to
Plan the plan?
All good things come to 
Those who can
Wait. *

*"Wait" from "Sweeney Todd"

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.


  1. Congrats! As a fellow actor on the O1 and going through the same struggles with equity, can you elaborate on your green card journey?

    1. LOTS of hard work! It is too long to explain everything here but I suggest you email Jen at She was great help to me.

  2. Congrats polly - very happy for you!!

  3. I just had to read this again. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. SO well deserved!