Saturday, April 25, 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CONTACT GIAA? Our contact information is: GIAA Canal Street Station PO Box 123 New York, NY 10013-0123 e-mail is GIAA does not employ a full-time staff. Our administrative functions are conducted by member volunteers. The best way to contact GIAA is by e-mail. Leaving a phone message does not always ensure a prompt response. E-mail is checked frequently throughout the day. If you choose to contact us by phone, please state your name and phone number clearly and the purpose of your call. Please write your purpose and full name in e-mails as well. Information about the guild can be found on this website. Requesting further information by mail will only provide the same information seen here. Our application can be downloaded from the HOW DO I JOIN section. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to do so. If you can not download the application, you may request one by mail. WHAT IS GIAA AND WHAT DOES GIAA DO? GIAA, formerly known as the IAU (Italian Actors Union) was founded in 1937 as a labor union representing actors working in Italian Speaking Theatre in the United States and Canada. We retain this jurisdiction under the auspices of the 4A's (Associated Actors and Artistes of America), the AFL-CIO's organization governing GIAA and our "sister" unions: SAG (Screen Actors Guild), AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), AGMA (American Guild of Musical Artists), AGVA (American Guild of Variety Artists), AEA (Actors Equity Association) and HAU (Hebrew Actors Union). GIAA retains its original jurisdiction, representing Italian Speaking Theatre and providing its members with benefits available to all members of the AFL-CIO. However, GIAA membership goes further. GIAA actively works on behalf of its members to secure employment in acting. Although we can not and do not guarantee our members work as an actor or guarantee them agent representation, we do proactively seek working opportunities for members. GIAA is sought out by agents, Casting Directors, Producers, etc. for Italian-Americans, Native Italians, Italian Speakers and Italian Types for work in all areas of the entertainment industry. Examples include: Motion Picture (major and independent), Television, Radio, Theater, Print, Voice-Over, Commercials, not for profit work, etc. At times, GIAA sponsors auditions exclusive to members. We also submit headshots and resumes on behalf of members. A wide variety of Industry Discounts are also available to members such as, seminars with agents and Casting Directors. GIAA serves as a Networking group. By interfacing with other members there are opportunities to learn what is happening in the industry. Some members have made close friends and industry contacts by meeting through GIAA events. We have many social activities and always invite Agents, Casting Directors, Producers, Playwrights as well as celebrity members. GIAA welcomes all industry professional to join our membership. GIAA seeks to become The voice for Italian Americans in the Entertainment Industry as we are the fourth largest ethnic group in the United States of America. We also seek to promote a positive image of Italian Americans and Italians in the media while carefully balancing the reality that as actors, we may portray "negative types" in order to work or "break-in" to the industry. GIAA works as your advocate when these issues may face you. Further information about what GIAA does and how membership can benefit you can be obtained by viewing other areas of this website. WHAT IS GIAA'S HISTORY AS A LABOR UNION? The first meeting of "The Italian Actors Equity Association" was held on December 20, 1937 at The Rand School, 7 East 15th Street in NYC. Mr. Ario Dramis was unanimously Elected President-Manager and Miss Louise Sesti was unanimously elected Secretary-Treasurer. The Council was elected and the Constitution duly adopted. To put things in perspective, SAG (The Screen Actors Guild), was recognized as a Union by Film Producers on May 9, 1937 and opened its New York "Field Office" on June 21st. SAG's first NY membership meeting was held on December 13, 1937-exactly one week prior to the Italian Actors Union's first meeting. On February 5, 1938 the IAU called for it's 1st picket at Brooklyn's Majestic Theatre on Fulton Street, when a collective bargaining agreement with the IAU was breached. Four IAU members were hospitalized in Kingsbridge Hospital after they were assaulted and beaten for their union activities. A call was then made to the 4A's for Union Solidarity and shortly thereafter on March 25, 1938 the 4A's(on behalf of the American Federation of Labor) granted The Italian Actors Union its charter over actors, actresses, stage managers, directors, assistant directors, and prompters performing in plays rendered in the Italian language. On January 13, 1939, an evening of great entertainment and dance was held at the Manhattan Opera House to celebrate the first anniversary of the IAU, then numbering 360 members. In 1940, when Italy entered World War II on the side of Germany, the IAU admonished its members to keep free from any form and aspect of propaganda in the Italian Theatre and the Radio. The Executive Board stated, "We believe that the Theatre should be only a means of education, culture and healthy enjoyment for the people and not serve the interests or aims of any political ideology or government opposed to the democratic institutions and way of living we are blessed with in this country. We are convinced that the theatre, as an expression of art, can only live and fulfill its noble mission, in a regime of democracy and freedom." "We, of the Executive Committee, sure of expressing the real sentiment of the Italian American Actors and Artistes of our Union, reaffirm our determination to remain always loyal citizens of our adopted and beloved country, to which we pledge our support in order to be worthy of the blessings that only a democracy can give." On October 27, 1941, IAU members sang in a national broadcast on WOR entitled "I Hear America Singing." A letter of appreciation was sent to the IAU by the US Department of Justice for the IAU's participation in this patrotic program. On January 12, 1942, the Acting Assistant Director of the Office of Civilian Defense thanked the IAU for offering its talent to perform for service members in World War II. Nevertheless, accusations that the Executive Board of the IAU was controlled by Fascists prompted the President of the 4A's to write to the FBI seeking an investigation of the Union and revocation of the Charter. The FBI declined to investigate the IAU itself. Unfortunately though, some individual members were detained in camps as "Enemy Aliens" due to their Italian citizenship. At various times, disagreements with other unions regarding solidarity and jurisdiction occurred, including threats to revoke the Union's charter. However, the Italian Actors Union, now doing business since 1998 as The Guild of Italian American Actors, continues to exist and thrive by adapting to changes in the industry and American Society. I HAVE A SCRIPT AND NEED A LITERARY AGENT AND A MOVIE DISTRIBUTION DEAL. CAN YOU GET ME THESE THINGS? As previously stated, GIAA works on behalf of our members, mainly composed of Actors. However, as we seek to become The voice in the Entertainment Industry representing America's forth largest ethnic group, Italian Americans, we welcome all Industry Professionals to join us, including but not limited to, Directors, Producers, Agents, Casting Directors, Writers, etc. We only work on behalf of our members, though. As GIAA survives on membership dues alone, but welcomes donations, we do not have the resources nor can we shift our focus to work on behalf of people who are not members. We are not a charity organization. We will not give free advice nor use our contacts on behalf of people who are not GIAA members. We do not seek unsolicited scripts. GIAA will not find you a literary agent nor get you a movie deal only because you called and have an Italian surname. We will only consider working on projects whereby GIAA members are used as Actors. Regarding such proposals, please make them in writing and either mail them to our office or e-mail them to us at Please follow this required protocol. Non-members who want free assistance from GIAA without offering anything in return will not be entertained by this organization. This distracts us from serving our members who are our primary concern. It also wastes our financial resources. GIAA wishes to promote positive images of Italian Americans. We do not exist to promote "Mafia" movies nor do we act as Producers. GIAA does not exist to introduce you to potential financial backers without knowing you or anything about you. We can not guarantee our members literary agents or movie distribution deals but, obviously intervene on their behalf when they seek our assistance. GIAA does not wish to discourage you from contacting us but we merely require that non-member requests be made in writing by mail or e-mail with your understanding that only serious collaborative projects will be considered by us. MY CHILD WANTS TO BE AN ACTOR. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE ME? There are a number of GIAA members who are children. All are Acting Professionals, deeply committed to both the craft of Acting and the Business of Acting. This commitment also extends to their parents. If your child is interested in pursuing Acting, GIAA strongly encourages your child's interest. The Executive Board recommends that before your seriously commit your child to our vocation, you thoroughly research the topic, Start at a library or on-line where numerous publications can be found about the Acting business and the craft itself. We also strongly suggest some sort of Acting Classes at an accredited school or professional program. Only after you have ascertained that you wish to devote your time and money in your child's pursuit of an acting career do we suggest you contact us to enroll your child as a GIAA member. I'M A NATURAL! CAN YOU GET ME ON THE SOPRANOS? Professional actors know that it is not easy to be cast on the Sopranos. What seems so natural on TV may not be so natural at all. Looking at the stars of the Sopranos, one should realize that these "naturals" have years of extensive acting training before landing the roles of their lives. James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Dominic Chianese, Lorriane Bracco, Joe Pantoliano, etc. have all been acting for years with appearances in many films and on television programs as well as Broadway appearances. None of these actors made their fame and fortune overnight, even though it is the role that you may know them from. After each episode of the Sopranos, one can read the end credits which list the Principal Casting Director and the Background Casting Director just like every other show on television. The phone book or industry directories provide their addresses. The Principal Casting Director only accepts submissions from agents after submitting a breakdown of roles that are available for the episodes being cast. Background Casting Directors accept Professionally made headshots and resumes directly by mail. This is standard procedure in the industry, GIAA is often contacted by both Principal and Background Casting Directors when they seek actors for a number of different productions. GIAA members have the advantage in marketing themselves by appearing on our website which is frequently visited by Casting Directors. We do not guarantee work to our members but rather facilitate opportunities that enable members to get work. Unlike an agent, we do not collect a commission fee on jobs that members book because of an audition we have arranged. We urge our members to be proactive in their own careers and GIAA compliments their efforts in helping them find work as actors. HOW DOES THE UNION FEEL ABOUT NEGATIVE STEREOTYPING OF ITALIANS AND ITALIAN AMERICANS? GIAA seeks to promote a positive image of Italian Americans and Italians in the media. In fact, GIAA has sponsored a number of events and off-Broadway plays which promote positive images. For example, we co-sponsored a Reading of Dante's Divine Comedy "The Inferno." This hallmark work of Western Civilization was cast exclusively and performed primarily by GIAA members. However, as actors, GIAA realizes that the Italian American Actor must carefully balance the need to work as an actor to pay the bills yet portray negative "types," Mafia characters in particular. Actors themselves should not be blamed for negative portrayals since actors seek to earn their livings by acting. For example, the late Richard Crenna once played a sexual predator who killed women in a made for television movie. Is he at fault for this? Should Frank Sinatra be blamed for the drug epidemic of the 1960's because he portrayed a junkie in the movie, "The Man With The Golden Arm?" Obviously not. It would be ludicrous to do so. With this in mind, one can not help but notice that some GIAA members on our website are actors who have been seen in "mafia movies." This is a dichotomy which Italian American Actors face. Tiberius Caesar, when confronted with bad news arriving from Rome, had the messenger thrown to his death from the cliffs of Caesar's villa in Capri. This did not solve Caesar's problem. Italian American Actors are like Caesar's messenger: it is easy to attack the messenger (actor) but this does nothing to solve the problem. Criticism directed at GIAA actors by well meaning but otherwise misguided Italian Americans will not be tolerated by GIAA. Such people/groups will better serve our mutual goal of promoting positive images of Italian Americans by joining with us to assist writers with good scripts in obtaining financing for their positive image projects rather than singling out individual actors for criticism. In the entertainment industry, producers put money up for commercial ventures hoping to make a profit on their investment. If mafia movies are popular and profitable, wouldn't it make sense to offer a positive alternative to producers who seek to earn a return of investment? Why are actors held accountable while the producers are the ones perpetuating the stereotype? This is an issue that we are constantly faced with.