Brandon J. Dirden
Residence: West Orange, NJ
Contracts worked: Production(League), LORT (Rep&Non-Rep), Off-Broadway, ANTC, LOA-NYC, LOA, SPT, Staged Reading, Special Agreement, Guest Artist
During my 15 year membership of AEA, I have worked on nearly 50 Equity contracts from coast to coast. My wife is a member of AEA, my brother is a member of AEA, and in 2017 I shared a stage for the first time with my seventy-two year old father, and all he wanted to know was whether he would get his Equity card. My dad certainly had the talent and desire to join AEA decades earlier, but he came along at a time where, for a person of color in Houston, Texas, he didn’t see the opportunities that would allow him to be a professional stage actor and raise a family.
Sadly, that reality is still a deterrent for thousands of brilliant stage managers and actors across our country. I believe Equity must make sure that the construct of a show that represents POC and performers with disabilities is actually representing them. I believe wages should be based on a theatre’s total ability to pay. I believe we can do more to support working members with families. I am part of a proud family of AEA actors and should my son one day decide to take up the “family business,” I want to ensure that this union will be one that he can be proud to join as well.
I am originally from Houston, TX, where I made my professional acting debut at the age of 11 in the Alley Theater’s production of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Since 2006 I have lived in the New York area and I currently reside in West Orange, NJ with my wife Crystal Dickinson and our 4 year old son, Chase.
After grad school (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) I moved to Atlanta (awesome theater community!) where I was offered my first equity contract in 2004 for a play called A Death in the House Next Door to Kathleen Turner’s House on Long Island produced at The Alliance Theater. I’m not sure if that play was ever produced again, but I made life-long friends and started a life-long relationship with AEA!
Actors’ Equity is important to me because it allows me to enter each new job with the expectation of being treated fairly. I also know that Equity will have my back when I am being treated otherwise. With that assurance, I can spend more time and energy focusing on creating art as opposed to the challenges of being respected and valued as an artist.
Most people probably don’t know that I have a bachelors degree in Mathematics and I was actually studying to be a chemical engineer. Go figure.
Each plank in the #FairWageOnCouncil platform has a page of its own where you can read about it in greater detail. Just click on the text of the planks your are interested in learning more about.