Brooke Shields Elected President of Labor Union Actors’ Equity

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

Shields, 58, will take office immediately. She succeeds Kate Shindle, who had been the union’s president since 2015, and announced last month that she would not seek re-election.

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 previously, 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 Friday; a union spokesman 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 theater, 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 around the country. 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 like “Pretty Baby” and “The Blue Lagoon” and by modeling, 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 sexualized as a child and adolescent, was the subject of a documentary last year.

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