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Thinking about joining the Makeup & Hair union?


….Biz advice from one confused MUA to another

Malia2Let me start off this article by saying I am all for unions.  I am a proud SAG-AFTRA member. I value the resources they provide me, I love my benefits and lord knows I teared up when I received my union card in the mail but when people ask me, “Hey Malia! You plan on joining the makeup union?!” My brain sputters to a stop and I utter some response that’s barely English because honestly, up until recently I didn’t even know HOW one went about joining the union. Uhhh…embarrassing, learn some facts Malia.  So I did.

After a few clicks and “googles” and a couple stops over at the  I.A.T.S.E. (International Alliance of the Theatrical Stage Employees) Local 706 website, I feel I am now informed enough to be able to break down this VERY confusing how-to-join process.

Side note: Local 706 is for LA County ONLY and only covers film, television, live network shows, theatrical productions aaaaand DISNEYLAND!!! Woo! For east coasters Local 798 covers everywhere from Maine to Florida and includes work for Broadway so that’s awesome!

OK so there is basically 2 ways you can apply to join the Local 706.  The first way (and probably the easiest, if you can consider this easy) is the 60/60/60 or Roster Status. What it breaks down to is this; you need to work on either a non-union film, television production or a network television show/video for 60 day periods and it has to happen within 3 years in a 5 year term in LA county ONLY.

Pros: The 3 years don’t have to be consecutive. It can be non-union work. Way easier to achieve for freelance artists who are starting out or work with a lot of different people.

Cons: Finding makeup work is hard, trust me I know. It’s a TON of paperwork to keep track of to be able to prove to the union that you actually worked those engagements.

The second way to apply for unionship is Off Roster Status. Honestly – no lies – this one’s a bitch. Basically you have to somehow as a non-union member get 30 days of UNION work in a 1 year period in LA county ONLY. If you decide to go this route you just have to hope some producer you know will bring you on to a union project or a non-union project you’re working on turns union during production (or any other very lucky scenario in which you’re working on a union set).

Pros: 30 days in 1 year is a hell of a lot shorter than 60 days for 3 years. It’s less paperwork to keep track of and you’ll feel AWESOME for achieving something almost nearly impossible.

Cons: Getting non-union work is tough.  Getting union work as a non-union member is like picking a needle out of a haystack.

Also please keep in mind that this is also only just the steps to APPLY.  On top of this you also must have an extensive and impressive portfolio.  For makeup artists you are expected to know everything about makeup from beauty, runway, prosthetics, bald caps, period makeup and absolutely everything in between.  Hair stylists are expected to know basic barber skills, period hair styling, wig work and everything else that goes into normal hair styling.

To be accepted into Local 706 means you are outstanding at your job, that you have trained and learned your craft inside out and that you have WORKED YOUR ASS OFF. And that’s all awesome but……is joining the union right for YOU?

I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately and what I’ve found is that for me, it isn’t. Sure if I strike gold and end up in the right place at the right time then yeah, sure. But right now I’m enjoying working on the indie projects and not stressing about if I have clocked enough days to qualify (not to mention the price to join is INSANE. SAG-AFTRA looks cheap in comparison….no joke.) If you aspire to be in the Local 706 then I salute you and hope to share a congratulatory drink with you if/when you succeed.  As for me, I’m happy to stay non-union.

If you’ve joined the union or are looking too, please comment below! I would love to hear your story!!

If you’re interested in learning more about Local 706 go direct to the source at If you’re looking for information on how to join the east coast’s Local 798 go to

Malia Miglino

About Malia Miglino

Known to most as an actor and make-up artist - Malia Miglino considers herself a creative above all else. Her passion to create and chase her dreams brought her to LA at 18 where she attended the Makeup Designory and received her Journeyman Certificate. After years of both acting and doing make-up for web series and indie film; she was inspired to open her own freelance beauty and consult service, Beauty and the Brush in 2011. In 2014 Malia decided to start taking her career into her own hands and created her first web series “Macabre Mondays.” Whether it’s illustrating a children's book, filming an old haunted location, delving into a character or making up an actor on set; happiness comes from living the life of your choosing. For Malia that means creating something everyday and inspiring other women to do the same.