Keeping talent here is CAFM’s Holiday Party goal


Actress Grace McPhillips, CAFM founder

The Chicago Actors in Film Meetup (CAFM) set the final same-digit day of the year, 12/12, for its annual Third Networking Night and Fundraiser at Chief O’Neill’s Restaurant & Pub, open to everyone.

CAFM was founded by actress/producer and SAG/AFTRA member Grace McPhillips with four members in 2007.  Since then, it’s grown to 250 professional on-camera actors, who work regularly in all genres of visual media and have appeared in many of the recent Hollywood features and TV series that filmed here.

While CAFM meets monthly to share information, provide career guidance and encouragement — unlike any other local network of actors, it claims — its mission is to end the idea that actors must leave Chicago in order to enjoy a successful career — a move that negatively affects the market, McPhillips states.  

“We feel that the actor is the canary in the coal mine,” she says, “because if you can’t keep actors in Chicago, what industry do you really have here? It’s a cause for concern for the health of our market. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Can Chicago move beyond being a launching pad?’” she asks. 

Applied for not-for-profit status

Towards that end, CAFM has applied for a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status to primarily fund educational programs “and other meaningful events that directly connect members with those who can hire them,” McPhillips adds.

“We will continue to produce ‘smarter Chicago actors’ and share that approach with a wider group of industry professionals throughout the year ahead,” she says.  

One of those wider-interest events will be the Sustainable Acting Summit, a first-ever conference for creatives who plan to work and build their careers in Chicago.

Holiday Party is main fundraising event

Three hundred guests are expected at the 12/12 Holiday Party, which is CAFM’s main fund-raising event, with the goal of raising sufficient funds to cover programming expenses for the year. 

Tickets are $20 and include a drink ticket, hors d’oeuvres all night, a raffle ticket and cash bar.  Raffle tickets are $2 for a chance to win Cubs and theatre tickets, headshots and other big prizes.

Chief O’Neill’s is at 3471 N. Elston and the party goes from 7 p.m. to midnight. 

Membership is open to professional, working actors who meet certain criteria.  After four years of free membership, CAFM in January will start collecting $60 annual dues, “mainly to cover programming and out-of-town guest speaker expenses,” notes McPhillips.  

CAFM well-attended meetings are held the second Monday of the month at Chief O’Neill’s. Sign up here.