Actors’ Equity Executive Director Mary McColl Announces She Will Depart the Union in 2022

NEW YORK -- Actors’ Equity Association, the national union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has announced that Mary McColl, the current executive director, has decided not to seek a new contract when her contract expires in January 2022. McColl made her announcement to staff and officers of the union today. 

McColl, who joined the union in 2011, helped modernize the operations of the organization, leading the union to engage more directly with the labor movement by overseeing the receipt of a direct charter from the AFL-CIO and implementing changes to the union’s constitution that created the first-ever national convention. She stabilized the union’s finances after years of deficits by modernizing their business systems and working with union leaders on a successful referendum to change the union’s dues structure. 

“When I took this job in 2011, I was the first woman to be hired as executive director of the union. My hope is that Equity will cast a wide net for their next executive director so that historically marginalized members will see themselves reflected in staff leadership. While the search is ongoing, there is much work left to do. The staff and I are committed to working through re-opening to make sure that members return to a workplace where they not only feel safe, but that the culture begins to change so everyone feels they belong.” 

McColl stabilized and expanded Equity’s EDI initiatives, hiring dedicated staff and creating training for all staff, as well as overseeing soon-to-be implemented training for members. She also created new tools for members to report harassment, bullying and discrimination. 

As chief negotiator, McColl has led negotiations that have resulted in historic gains for members. She led the show development negotiations with the Broadway League that -- following a 33-day strike -- led to profit participation for members who create new commercial work. She has negotiated all of the union’s major national contracts. 

Under her leadership, a record number of Equity members were working prior to the pandemic, earning a record $424 million. Work weeks for stage managers also steadily increased.  

McColl will continue to serve as executive director until her contract concludes in January of 2022.  

McColl has served as 3rd vice president of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, as well as on the board of The Actors Fund and on the Tony Awards Administration Committee. She is a vice president on the board of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO. 

“Mary is not just an extremely tenacious and strategic contract negotiator. She is also deeply committed to the principle that theatrical professionals are both artists and workers, and deserve the dignity and protections of employment as compensation for our work.” said Actors’ Equity president Kate Shindle. “Over the last year, Mary has literally worked around the clock on our extremely challenging efforts to keep actors and stage managers safe during the pandemic, and that work has continued as we now reopen the industry more broadly. On a personal note, I deeply appreciate that Mary has worked her way up a professional ladder, in a business that is not always kind to women, to become one of its leading voices. Equity is grateful for her years of work, and may well seek out her unique skill set for future projects.” 

“Mary is a fierce and talented negotiator and has been a strong advocate for stage managers everywhere,” said Ira Mont, 3rd vice president and chair of the Production Contract Committee. “It has been my distinct privilege and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Mary McColl as our executive director for the last decade. The improvements and advancements she has overseen for the members individually and the union institutionally will continue to redound to the benefit of current and future members for years to come.” 

Consistent with the union’s bylaws, the national council will create a search committee to seek a replacement executive director.  

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA.  #EquityWorks

June 1, 2021