“The reports speak for themselves; people are suffering for their ‘art’ and they just don’t have to.”
Eve Morey, Actor and Equity Wellness Committee Member
Three years ago our National Performers’ Committee was troubled by recurring anecdotal reports of unhappiness, stress, depression, harassment and alcohol abuse amongst actors. We decided to do some research.
We know that work is intermittent and income is unpredictable. We sense that the black dog lurks in the shadow between jobs. We’ve heard stories of actors freezing on stage or unable to go on. We have seen broken relationships. We know all this instinctively right? But we have no figures on this.
The Equity Foundation, together with the Departments of Drama and Psychology at Sydney University, has released a ground-breaking study into actors’ well-being. It is the largest research project ever undertaken into actors’ lives in Australia, and amongst only a few such studies in the world. More than 800 actors participated.
Poverty is the big issue. Almost 60 per cent of all actors earn less than $20,000 per year from their craft. Forty per cent earn less than $10,000. Only five per cent of Australian actors earn the national average wage.
Even if you add income from non-acting sources, actors are poor. Generally actors earn more from their other jobs: hospitality, teaching, retail. Even combining income, one quarter of actors live below the poverty line.
Finances are not the only source of stress for actors. The survey results reveal strikingly high levels of stress, depression and performance anxiety amongst the acting community. Scores for depression amongst actors are twice as high as the general population. More than a quarter have experienced acute debilitating performance anxiety.
Equity is working with our performer members and health professionals to address these alarming findings.
The mission statement of the Equity Wellness Committee is:
The EWC is excited to be part of a shift in the way our industry views mental health and seeks to support our community by encouraging a positive attitude towards not only mental health, but physical health and wellness in general.
In doing so the EWC hopes to ensure our industry feels like a community. A collective of creative individuals that are connected and supported, an environment we believe conducive to living a balanced and fulfilling life. In turn enriching the creative work of our industry, fostering safe and vibrant artistic expression.
Equity Wellness Committee members:
Liam McIlwain (co-chair)
Francisco Lopez (co-Chair)
This is a national list of GPs, Psychiatrists and Psychologists who have self-identified as having a special interest in or affiliation with the arts and/or artists.
PLEASE NOTE: MEAA does not endorse or recommend any of the professionals listed. This list is intended only as a guide to get you started and does not substitute for your own research.
If you are a mental health professional with an interest in working with members of the entertainment industry request to join the database here.
Looking for inspiration and information about living a healthy creative life? Developed by our friends at Zebra Collective, exclusively for Equity members, the Equity Wellness Portal will house hundreds video interviews with Australian and US performers and creatives. Click here and follow the simple login details.
This is a national list of GPs, Psychiatrists and Psychologists who have self-identified as having a special interest in or affiliation with the arts and/or artists. Download here.
The Equity Wellness Committee was formed last year in response to two surveys which showed troubling levels of anxiety and depression among performers. The committee is made up of passionate and generous people with experience and interest in helping our industry adopt a more holistic approach to wellness. Find out more about the Committee and how you can get involved.
The Wellness Committee members share their top tips for keeping your mind fit and healthy. We hope you find encouragement and inspiration, and we invite you to share this resource with your colleagues to continue the conversation around wellness at work. Download here.
1.Mindfulness for Anywhere, Anytime
World-renown meditation coach Deone Zanotto shared some simple and effective mindfulness exercises that performers can use to stay calm and present before an audition, stuck in traffic, or when in general need of grounding. Listen here.
2. Step out of performance mode by Sarah Borg.
A short grounding practice to help transition out of performance mode. Great for those times after an audition, rehearsal, a day on set… especially those performances that might be tricky to let go of. Listen here.
3. Mindfulness of your cuppa by Sarah Borg.
Prepare your favourite hot beverage and use it as an anchor in this short practice to help centre your mind in the present moment. Listen here.
4. Pre Audition calm-down and energise up by Simon Ward.
Pre Audition calm-down and energise up (by Simon Ward). In the hallway before an audition. Everyone else is better than me and I have to go in! A mindful way of calming down and keeping your focus. Listen here.
5.Post performance solo or group cool down by Simon Ward.
A brilliant performance! Welcome yourself back to the world without a bumpy re entry. Listen here.