Off the Clock with actor Christopher Gorham

Off the Clock

In this regular interview series, American Rights at Work spends some time off the clock with notable workers’ rights leaders, supporters, experts, and organizers.

We’re big fans of actor Christopher Gorham and his memorable performances over the years on shows like Ugly Betty, Out of Practice, Jake 2.0, and Popular. He’s now starring on USA Network’s Covert Affairs as CIA analyst Auggie Anderson, returning tonight. Read our interview with Chris to learn more about this outspoken union member’s first union job, favorite labor film, and what he likes to do when he’s off the clock…

American Rights at Work: What was your first job? What was your first union job?

Chris Gorham: My very first job was in a movie theater. My first union job was selling live theater tickets, over the phone, at the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles. I was an IATSE member, I believe. Because of the union contract, we were paid well for the work and, most importantly to me at the time, had health insurance.Christopher Gorham as Auggie Anderson -- Photo by: Frank Ockenfels/USA Network

ARAW: As evidenced by your participation in our Labor Day Tweet-a-Thon, you’re vocal and proud to be a union member. What made you recognize the importance and benefits of having union representation and protection?

CG: I’ve experienced the benefits of union membership! While the recent history of SAG and AFTRA, my current unions, has been underwhelming, the hard-won victories of years past have given me the opportunities I have today to make a solid living as an actor. It is because of my union that I have healthcare coverage. It’s because of my union that I will have a pension when I eventually retire, and it’s because of my union that I am protected at work. Literally, without SAG and AFTRA there would be no such thing as a middle class actor – certainly not one with kids! And, should the proposed merger of SAG and AFTRA go through, I think the future of our union, and our business, is bright.

ARAW: What would you say to people who don’t think unions are relevant or a positive force for change?

CG: Unions are the reason we have a 40-hour work week. Unions are the reason we have a weekend. I don’t understand how one can believe in democracy and representative government and not also believe in the value of a union, which is, inherently, democratic. What is our government, after all, but the union we all belong to?

ARAW: If you weren’t an actor, what other work would you like to try?

CG: I’ll try my hand at directing one of these days. I hear good things about that DGA.

ARAW: What’s your favorite movie, show, documentary, or play about work or labor rights?

CG: I have a few but the first one that came to mind is Norma Rae, with Sally Field and Beau Bridges (whom I’m lucky enough to have worked, and watched a Dodger game, with!). Another favorite, and one that has influenced my thinking since seeing it in high school, is Roger and Me. Michael Moore should re-release that film. In 3-D. Pets or meat!?

ARAW: How do you like to spend your time off the clock – when you’re not working and filming?

CG: I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but I treasure the time I’m home and can spend time with my wife and kids. I have three children and, as all parents come to know, they grow up awfully fast, so I try to be there for as much of it as I can.

Thanks to Chris for taking the time to talk unions with us! You can find Chris Gorham on Twitter @Chris_Gorham or catch him Tuesday at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. CT) on USA Network’s Covert Affairs.

Photo by: Frank Ockenfels/USA Network

Read previous Off the Clock interviews.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 at 2:04 pm and is filed under Off the Clock. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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