Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, will step down from her role when her contract expires in January 2022. McColl will have served in the leadership role for more than a decade.
The actors’ and stage managers’ union shared the news of McColl’s impending departure on June 1. In McColl’s capacity, she leads union negotiations with the Broadway League and other producers while also overseeing and representing the union’s 50,000+ members. Her announcement comes at a time when Actors’ Equity has been under fire for requesting dues from members while they are unemployed and not providing clear guidelines about what returning to work will mean amid the pandemic. Others have criticized the union for not doing more to serve and uplift BIPOC artists and for lack of financial transparency.
“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,” McColl said in a statement. “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.”
“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 in the press release. “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.”
In her decade with Actors’ Equity Association, McColl collaborated with union leaders to adjust the association’s dues structure to level finances and also led negotiations during the 2019 actors’ strike that led to profit sharing for Equity members.
In addition to her role at Actors’ Equity, McColl is on the board of the Actors Fund and the Tony Awards Administration Committee. An official search committee will be tasked with finding McColl’s replacement.