|Laura Marie Duncan|
For many actors with aspirations of one day being on a Broadway stage, the first sign they're well on their way to this goal is getting their Equity Cards — proof positive that they are, in fact, members of Actors' Equity, which represents actors and stage managers in the theatre.
Here is how a few of Broadway's best and brightest got their start in the theatre and how they obtained their Equity cards.
I was studying ballet in Washington, DC, and along with another student, was chosen to audition for a scholarship at the School of American Ballet in New York City. We both auditioned and both got a scholarship! Later in New York, I auditioned for Jerome Robbins, who was sending out the national tour of Call Me Madam. A friend asked me to come along. I did. I just danced my heart out, knowing that I was already on that scholarship. When Robbins offered me the role, I immediately called my mother to ask if I could do it — "I can earn money," I said.
And so I joined Equity in 1952 and felt really proud — now I was going to get paid to do what I love to do.
When I came to New York City, I was able to book commercials and earn an AFTRA card — thanks to an aunt in advertising — but the card I wanted was my Equity Card. I knew I wanted to be on the stage. I built up points toward my goal, but by '83 I was discouraged. I took a Wall Street job, and was considering an MBA — which is hilarious, really — when Charles Busch and Ken Elliott entered my life. We started Theatre-in-Limbo, performing on the Lower East Side. Charles' play Vampire Lesbians of Sodom became a cult hit and we moved all the way uptown to the Village. We opened at Provincetown Playhouse in '85. I continued on Wall Street for two years — research manager by day, vampire lesbian by night. I'm happy to say that because of that show I was able to get my full Equity membership.
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