Spring 2015

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44 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2015 | Left, celebrity guest Quddus and NextGen Performers Subcommittee Chair Ben Whitehair host the launch party July 31 in Los Angeles. Young Performers to learn the ropes of the business. The day started with a panel of mentors discussing how they got into the business, followed by small breakout groups that gave the students more face time with the professionals. The program, which was a hit, drew about 70 students and helped raise awareness of the union and its mission. Nurturing young people is important to the union for a number of reasons: Protecting and fostering members is SAG-AFTRA's raison d'être, and its youngest members are its most inexperienced and vulnerable. Young performers are the face of the union just as much as adult members, and its future depends on them. Some will grow to become elected leaders, steering the union through the coming decades and beyond. Additionally, by gaining a full understanding of how SAG-AFTRA improves their lives through the collective bargaining process, young members can help promote the union movement as a whole, whether it's in their personal interactions with others or through deeper involvement later on. The most important point is that young members — even those under 18 — are full-fledged members, entitled to all the benefits and protections the union offers. That's why they need to be as informed and involved as their adult counterparts. "If we can instill a sense of pride in our members at a young age, then that's only going to flourish as they get older and they realize all the great things the union is doing for them," said Elizabeth McLaughlin, chair of the National and Los Angeles Young Performers committees. And that helps empower members of all ages. keeping pace with Reaching Out to the Future N avigating through the complex worlds of the entertainment and media industries can be a daunting experience for any professional performer or broadcaster. But it's particularly true for young SAG-AFTRA members. Throughout the year, the union is active in educating this area of its membership by holding workshops and events, and partnering with outside organizations to let them know they have support and protection along the way. The union also offers outreach to young people likely to become members. One example was an April 11 broadcast mentoring program event in New York aimed at college students who may be considering careers in broadcast. For the annual event, the New York Local Broadcast Department invited college students from the greater New York area to sit down with member mentors JUSTIN BAKER

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