Eastern Principal

Jeffrey Omura

New York, NY

COMMITTEES:

I proudly serve on eight committees, including Off-Off-Broadway, Off Broadway, League of Resident Theaters (LORT), Developing Theater, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Media & New Technology, Membership Education, and I chair the International Actors Committee where I’ve worked to make Equity’s membership rules more inclusive to immigrant stage managers and actors, while aggressively enforcing Equity’s exchange agreements to expand opportunities for our members to work overseas.

#FairWageOnCouncil

I’m running for re-election for the same reason I ran in 2017: I want to be able to afford to work in the theater. I’m broke after working two Off-Broadway jobs and one LORT job in 2019 and wondering what future I have in theater at current wages. 

The #FairWage movement gave Equity leverage to win record breaking wage increases up to 83% Off-Broadway and we’ve continued momentum with a coalition on Council: passing Judge It By The Budget, a new policy requiring Equity to take a theater’s total financial picture into account, allowing us to secure fair wages while helping struggling theaters recover and grow; launching Equity’s first strike in 50 years, obtaining profit participation for our members in Broadway show development; revising the Constitution and By-Laws, making union governance more representative of members outside of office cities; winning 28% wage increases for New England Area Theaters; 14.74% for COST; and many more. 

As Chair of the International Actors Committee, I’ve worked to make Equity’s membership rules more inclusive to immigrant stage managers and actors, while aggressively enforcing Equity’s exchange agreements to expand opportunities for our members to work overseas. 

However, there’s so much more to do.

We need fairer wages on all contracts and I want to be in the room when we implement Judge It By The Budget to negotiate TYA and National Tours in 2020, Off-Broadway in 2021, and LORT in 2022. It’s time for a #FairWage.


Personal Statement

I was born and raised in Mid-Michigan, a Lansing suburb called Okemos. We were lucky to have great theater programs in middle and high school and opportunities to perform at local community theaters. I really found my people onstage and backstage of high school plays. They are still some of my closest friends today. Twenty years later, they are keeping me sane and getting me through the COVID-19 shutdown with regular Zoom calls. 

I’m single and live by myself in Manhattan so Zoom calls with friends and family has been my lifeline during this crisis. Did I mention I’m single?

My Equity Card: I got my Equity card in 2008 in a TheatreworksUSA production of The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks, a new musical by Joe Iconis, at the Lucille Lortel Theater.

How/Why is Equity and this work important to you?
This work is deeply personal. I do it to survive. I first got involved with Equity in 2016 when I was working under an Off-Broadway contract for $595 a week at one of the most financially well-endowed theaters in the entire country. I didn’t understand how it was possible that I could have secured one of the most highly coveted acting jobs in the city, one that thousands of other actors would kill to have, while my paycheck didn’t even cover my rent. If that’s not insane, I don’t know what is. A couple of friends started texting me about something called #FairWageOnStage. I jumped at the chance to help. We created a social media campaign to pressure New York’s Off-Broadway theaters to raise our wages. We made videos testifying to the sacrifices we’ve had to make in our lives to survive on such low wages. We wore buttons, held signs, signed petitions, and created leverage so that, ultimately, Equity was able to win record breaking wage increases between 35-83% when they sat down with the Off-Broadway League. We literally cried when the terms of the new agreement were announced in Equity’s Council room. It was an enormous achievement, but we knew the work had just begun. Most of Equity’s contracts fall short of anything close to paying a #FairWage. I joined every contract committee I was eligible to serve on. The following year, I ran for and won a seat as an Eastern Principal Councilor. Equity has made huge gains in the last three years, but there’s so much more to do. I want to be able to continue to afford to work in the theater. I want our members to be able to afford to make their art, put food on the table, pay their rent and bills, start a family, live where they want to live, send their kids to college, and save a little money for retirement. That’s why I do this.

What is a Fun Fact or something most people don’t know about you?
I write. I’m using this COVID-19 shutdown to spend more time writing and finish my screenplay about the 442nd — the entirely Japanese-American regiment, the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history, that fought on the front lines of Europe during World War II, freed Jewish prisoners from a concentration camp, while their families were imprisoned in internment camps back home. It’s a story I’m continually shocked so few people today know about. 

Where is your happy place? 
Central Park has been my happy place during this shut down. I don’t know what I would’ve done without a place to go and get some fresh air and sunshine surrounded by nature. I’ve explored every inch of the park on my daily walks. I find myself continually drawn to Belvedere Castle overlooking the park’s Delacorte Theater, home to the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park productions, and my first ever acting job in the city. I sit and meditate and try not to focus on the fact that the productions performed here are governed by a LORT B contract with wages far too low for an 1800-seat amphitheater with deep corporate sponsorship. 

What was your first ever stage production? 
I was cast in the title role of a production of a new adaptation of Pinocchio at the Riverwalk Theater in Lansing, Michigan, alongside many veterans of the local theater scene. I learned a lot from them and from there forward, I knew I was destined to pursue a career as an actor.