Equity Update: They’re Coming in Very Handy!

Last year I posted about why we should all be joining Equity, a trade union for actors and now models.

I would say that, when I joined, it was something of a token gesture: I believed in what they do as a whole, and I wished I’d joined many years ago so that I could have been protected from so many dodgy circumstances, from safety concerns to money being unfairly withheld. However, I felt like at my age and at the stage I’m at in my modelling career, I can stand up for myself plus I rarely need to.

However, then my brother saw a picture of me up in a shop in Ireland, that shouldn’t have been there.

Have you ever chased old buyouts before? It can be tough. Agencies are weirdly reluctant to pursue it because they don’t want to annoy the client or risk future bookings for other models. Especially when a model has left an agency: you’re old news and there’s little inclination to chase for you.

I’ve taken it upon myself to pursue in the past and it is HARD. Without the protection of your agency, the clients know you’re on weak footing. They just ignore emails and calls and fob you off when you get through. Then chasing the money – and knowing how much to actually ask for in the first place – is another massive ballache. I’ve done it for a couple of jobs and each time it took months, even years, to get my money.

Well, instead of chasing the agency and then chasing the agency to chase the client and then frustratedly waiting for inevitable brush offs as I chase money from both, I just contacted Equity, who I have been paying ten pounds a month to be a member at.

I gathered the information, the photos and chased what the usage was myself, sent it off and now I can sit back and let them do everything. And the fantastic thing is that from that ten pounds a month (pretty much the cost of two and a half fancy coffees), I can get advice whenever I want, I can follow them up guilt-free and if need be they can take it to the courts, at no extra cost to me.

We work hard and in good faith as models, but we are often told to just accept things to maintain relationships with clients, agents and our own reputation as ‘non-moaners’. However that’s not right: we should be paid what we are owed and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty and/or apologetic about it.

If you’re reading this and thinking that you’d like to be protected in the same way, I’m afraid you can’t just wait for something like this to happen and then approach Equity. It’s better to join now (you can always suspend your membership fee if you’re going through lean times), because chances are you will face hurdles like this in your career. And the more of us that join, the more of a voice we have against unfairly lowering rates from rapidly growing mega companies (ASOS anyone?), mistreatment by clients and agencies and the knowledge that you have expert legal advice on hand, whenever you need it.

I really do think we should all be members, head to www.equity.org.uk/models/ to find out more and how to join.

Or contact Emmanuel de Lange on edelange@equity.org.uk or 020 7670 0237

Rebecca x

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