Brooke Shields Elected Equity President

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Celebrity prevailed over experience at Actors’ Equity Association, where Brooke Shields was elected president of the labor union representing about 51,000 actors and stage managers.

Shields got 2794 votes, vs. 1940 votes for stage manager Erin Maureen Koster and 834 for Chicago-based actress Wydetta Carter, according to a tally shared with Broadway Journal.

Shields hasn’t served in Equity’s governance, unlike Koster and Carter, who continue to have top positions in its volunteer leadership. The 58-year-old actress, famous since she was a child, faces a steep learning curve as she begins her four-year term immediately.

She succeeds Kate Shindle as president, who declined to run for reelection after nine years. The presidency is a demanding unpaid position that oversees the management and direction of the union. Equity negotiates hundreds of collective bargaining agreements, including Broadway and touring contracts that expire in September 2025. The union’s expenses in 2022-23 were $28 million.

Shields isn’t the first actor to trade on celebrity in service of the union. Ron Silver, for example, was president from 1991 to 2000. Fran Drescher was elected president of SAG-AFTRA in September 2021.

Shields’ campaign consisted of a three-minute video promising to “make a difference and get the things that will make all of our lives actually better.”

She said in the video that while working on Broadway — five leading roles as a replacement, most recently Morticia Addams in The Addams Family in 2011 — she discovered a “bigger purpose.” “Whatever the fight was, I realized that  I could get the ear of the producer, and I could speak up for the cast members,” Shields said. “And as president of the Association, I can do that for all the members.”

Shields doesn’t appear to have referred to the election on social media or discussed it in interviews.

Koster, who would’ve been the first stage manager to lead the labor union, said in her campaign video that she had served on three Equity negotiating teams in the past 14 months. Carter was the first woman of color to hold national office at the labor union in 40 years. She said that she led the search team for Equity’s current executive director, Alvin Vincent, Jr.

Shields said in her video that as Equity president, she will raise the profile of the union and lobby for more government funding of the arts. “I want to use all of the goodwill and the advantages that I have built up in my career over the years to be able to grow the value of being an Equity member,” she said.

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