Actors' Equity has released the results of its first-ever diversity study, which focused on the hiring practices of actors and stage managers on Broadway and Off-Broadway. The study shows that women and people of color have fewer work opportunities and make lower salaries.
The study surveyed the opening night casts of shows which opened between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2015 only and did not take into consideration replacement casts—meaning that productions that opened before but continue to run on Broadway, such as Phantom of the Opera, were not included.
In a survey of Broadway and national tours, AEA found that women are a minority in the following three contracts: principal in a play (35 percent), principal in a musical (42 percent), and stage manager (37 percent). The study revealed that men also have higher contractual salaries in both principal in a musical and chorus contracts. Off-Broadway showed similar data, with men drawing higher contractual salaries than women in principal in a musical, chorus, and stage manager contracts.
Also of concern, the study showed that in general, Caucasians are hired with higher contractual salaries both on and Off-Broadway. African-American actors reported salaries 10% lower than the average in principal in a play roles on Broadway, for example.
People of color are a minority in all stage contracts on Broadway and national tours, with Caucasians making of 65 percent of principal actors in a play, 66 percent of principal actors in a musical, 57 percent of the chorus, and 77 percent of stage managers. AEA only signed six contracts for African-American stage managers on Broadway and five Off-Broadway during the two-year study.
“This study came about because our Council made diversity and inclusion a priority and our staff spent months working on the data,” said executive director Mary McColl in a press statement. “With this study, we can take an empirical look at hiring biases in our industry. Women and members of color have fewer work opportunities, and when they do get hired, they often are hired on lower-paying contracts. Equity has fought for diversity and inclusion at the bargaining table for years. What we learned with this study is that we won't negotiate our way out of this problem. We need an industry-wide conversation about how we can change the stage.”
Member data was based on how members chose to self-identify their gender, race and ethnicity. Members earning $10,000/week overscale were excluded.