Actress Brooke Shields elected president of stage actors’ union

NEW YORK - Brooke Shields, the American model-turned-actress who has starred in films, television and onstage, has been elected as the next president of Actors’ Equity Association, the American labour union representing stage actors and stage managers.

Shields, 58, will take office immediately. She succeeds American actress Kate Shindle, who had been the union’s president since 2015 and announced in April that she would not seek reelection.

The position of Equity president is a volunteer job, and Shields was elected to a four-year term. There have been a number of other well-known performers who have served in the post, including Burgess Meredith, Ellen Burstyn, Colleen Dewhurst and Ron Silver.

Shields won the election with about half the vote; the balance was split between two Equity vice-presidents, Erin Maureen Koster and Wydetta Carter.

Her victory was reported by the newsletter Broadway Journal and announced by the union on May 24; a union spokesperson said she was not available for an interview.

In a campaign video posted on YouTube, Shields said that among her priorities would be lobbying for greater government funding for the arts.

“I understand the real need to support live theatre, and I have a history of being able to open doors and of being able to help,” she said.

Equity has about 51,000 members and represents them in contract negotiations in the United States. Just last week, the union won the right to represent a variety of performers at Disneyland, so the union will now need to try to bargain for a contract for those workers.

The union is negotiating for a new contract for off-Broadway workers, and it is at odds with the Broadway League over a new contract governing developmental work – how performers are compensated when participating in workshops for shows in development.

Equity has threatened that its members would stop working on those developmental projects if a deal is not reached by mid-June.

Shields became famous through films such as Pretty Baby (1978) and The Blue Lagoon (1980) and by modelling, notably for Calvin Klein. She has appeared in five Broadway musicals, always as a replacement: Grease, Chicago, Cabaret, Wonderful Town and The Addams Family, as well as a handful of off-Broadway shows.

Her early career, and the problematic ways in which she was sexualised as a child and adolescent, was the subject of a documentary in 2023. NYTIMES

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