Join a Union or Stock Up on Credits

Dear Michael:
I’ve been doing some background work lately to bring in a bit of extra cash. On some of these jobs it’s been possible to get SAG-AFTRA waivers, and I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to join the union through background work. I’ve heard two schools of thought: One says that it’s an easy way to start going out for union projects immediately, and that it’s easier to get representation if you’re a union member; but another says that if you join without any credits for speaking roles, all you’re doing is depriving yourself of nonunion opportunities that you could have used to build up your résumé and reel. What do you think? I’m just starting out, and I don’t have much film experience yet.

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