Top Canadian Actors Union Negotiator Stephen Waddell to Retire

Stephen Waddell attends the 2016 ACTRA National Award of Excellence - Getty-H 2019
Vincent Sandoval/FilmMagic

Waddell drove a hard bargain for local actors in labor talks with major Hollywood producers shooting in Canada.

Stephen Waddell, who as chief negotiator for Canada's actors union ACTRA served as a nemesis for Hollywood producers shooting north of the border, is retiring after nearly three decades as national executive director.

He will be replaced as ACTRA's chief negotiator and national executive director by veteran labor lawyer Marie Kelly, most recently CEO of the Ontario Nurses Association and before that a 22-year veteran with the United Steelworkers union.

Waddell joined ACTRA, which currently represents around 25,000 members, in 1972 as an assistant general secretary. The then-Screen Actors Guild in 1984 recruited him to serve as its assistant Hollywood executive director, based in Los Angeles.

Waddell returned to Toronto in 1988 to become a talent agent, before in 1992 being named national executive director of ACTRA. In 2007, he led the country's first-ever actors strike, which ended with the Hollywood studios agreeing contract terms for landmark digital media residuals for Internet content.

The major Hollywood studios are signatories to ACTRA's Independent Production Agreement, along with English and French language Canadian indie producers.

As Kelly takes over at ACTRA, Waddell will remain as an advisor to the actors union until fall 2020.