Local 891 Rigger Casey Chan Talks Bridging the Diversity and Inclusion Gap In the Entertainment Industry
Meet Local 891 Executive Board member and Rigger, Casey Chan. Casey has been a member of IATSE since 2013 and says although her parents are proud of her and now understands her life as a Rigging Grip, it has not always been an easy journey.
“Being first-generation half Chinese, initially my parents, particularly my Dad being from Hong Kong, was not thrilled about me working in entertainment. Being of Asian heritage, in the Cantonese culture anything creative and artistic is not considered a real job,” she says.
Casey says she encourages the entertainment industry to push for more representation and believes it can bridge the gap and help with the cultural disconnect in diverse communities. “When there is more representation, it helps educate the parents and communities of Asian and BIPOC members, that are working in entertainment and for IATSE,” she added. “This exposure shows that this is a viable industry and a way to thrive in your career and in life.”
Today, Casey’s parents are not only proud of her career choice, but they have a better understanding on what IATSE is and her craft.
“It wasn’t until after the first three years of me joining the union, my parents saw my paycheck and was like “Oh, okay you’re good!” she laughs. “Gripping has always been considered more of a labor craft, but it’s a lot of engineering that goes into the job too. With my parents knowing that I am not only using my creativity and intellect, but I am always protected by my union, has given them more comfort, pride, and respect for IATSE and our industry.”
Casey says she encourages young Asian Americans who may be first-generation too, to get involved, be empowered, step up and be a part of the cultural change that is happening within IATSE.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), is a labor union representing over 150,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.