A WORD ABOUT YOUR EQUITY COUNCILLOR
Jean was re-elected as a Council member of EQUITY in July 2016 and is now in her 12th consecutive term as a general list Councillor. She held the office of Vice President of the union from 2004-2014.
Jean is a member of the board of BECS - the British Equity Collecting Society - which has distributed millions of pounds to performers. She was Chairman of BECS from 2008-2014. BECS is a separate organisation from Equity but was set up by Equity in 1998 for the collecting of monies for UK audiovisual performers from collecting societies abroad.
She was Chair of the Advertising in New Media working party which after many years of stalemate re-established co-operation with the IPA, for recording of advertising material. She also chaired the New Technology working party when it was first set up and has since championed every effort to improve negotiations on the ever expanding area of games. She very much admires the work done by John Barclay and Laurence Bouvard on this.
Jean is the Audio Council Observer and was proud to write the successful referendum Statement in support of reinstating an Audio Artist seat on Council. She is also a member of The STAGE Committee and was pleased to support and speak on their recent ARC motion seeking more considerate rehearsal schedules in theatre, acknowledging members' caring responsibilities, whether caring for children, partners or ageing family members.
As a mother herself Jean well understands the choices that have to be made and strongly supports PIPA (Parents in the Performing Arts).
Jean is also a member of the Women's committee and, through her work on the euro FIA (International Federation of Actors) Gender Equality steering group, has fought long and hard for recognition of the double discrimination in work opportunities that females in our industry have because of age and gender. She strongly supports, as they do, ERA 50/50.
Photo by Claire Grogan
Photo by Claire Grogan
She has chaired successful West End negotiations and was the Chair of the Anti Censorship Working Party when "Jerry Springer the Opera" was under attack.
As a member of FIA's Gender Equality Steering Group and later, the Audio Visual Social Dialogue between unions and broadcasters, she was involved in compiling data on the portrayal of women, with special emphasis on the older woman. In December 2012, shocking Guardian data from Elizabeth Freestone confirmed that, at best, for every two roles for men in the top funded English theatres, there was only one for a woman. We are waiting now for crucial Arts Council England (ACE) monitoring next year to find hopeful signs of improvement, something Equity women have been calling for, for a long time. There is a petition for equality in film and television. Check it out HERE and sign!
Jean is passionate about Equity's involvement with the wider trade union movement and has served three terms on the TUC Women's Committee, regularly attending and speaking at the annual TUC Women's Conference. This year she spoke on bullying, cyber violence and equal pay.
Away from Equity involvement, Jean has been writing a two-hander play called "My Dear Miss Terry" about the love letters between George Bernard Shaw and Ellen Terry. It previewed at the Alexandra Theatre in Bognor, late March, followed by a successful opening at the Brighton Rialto Theatre. She and Paddy o' Keefe are hoping to stage it in London soon. Review: Dear Miss Terry, Rialto Theatre, Brighton.
Other recent work has been in a tour of Freedom Studios "Home Sweet Home", a beautifully crafted piece by Emma Adams performed in Bradford, Stockport and at the Albany in London. It received a four star rating in the Guardian where Jean was mentioned. Click HERE for a review and HERE for a video promo.
Jean is a popular public speaker and can be booked for after-dinner and other speaking engagements via womenspeakers.co.uk
Jean's career has been long and varied. Two years in repertory theatre was followed by two season's with Sir Laurence Olivier's Chichester Festival Company. During this time he formed his National Theatre Company at the Old Vic and Jean joined as a founder member. Becoming a mother presented Jean with a number of choices and she concentrated on voice work while the family were small, clocking up over a thousand BBC broadcasts playing young boys and girls, and writing and presenting LISTEN WITH MOTHER and POETRY CORNER. She also presented a BBC Schools' Television programme for 7 and 8 year olds, called WATCH.
Her big break came when Yorkshire Television were seeking to re-cast Dolly Skilbeck in EMMERDALE. Jean won the part over 50 others and spent the next eleven years happily playing opposite Freddie Pyne, Dolly's husband Matt. It was he who introduced her to being an activist in Equity and she became a Councillor in 1994, pledging to replace the old divisive AGM with a modern 'grown-up' ARC (Annual Representative Conference). The rest is history!