Actors choose Fi-Core status for any number of reasons including disagreement with the policies and practices of SAG-AFTRA (also referred to as the Union, the Guild or SAG in this article) or a desire to work on non-Union projects they otherwise would be forced to decline. Some actors have chosen it as a result of actions or threats from the Union over past non-compliance issues, or out of a simple desire (or necessity) for more work options. Joining SAG-AFTRA may limit the amount of work you can find.
The fact is, most independent projects simply can't afford the requirements and restrictions of working under a Union contract. A big part of many actors’ problem is that SAG made it too easy for them to join and they did so long before they had any significant experience or exposure in the industry. Only after joining did they realize they seriously limited the amount of opportunities they could take and found very few options left to build a resume and reputation. Most FC members are struggling actors just trying to get their careers started. Some may be more established actors whose careers are, for whatever reason, languishing. Regardless, they are actors who are willing to accept more modest paychecks from less prestigious jobs until their next “big break” comes through. A few well known, high-income talents have also made the move to Fi-Core status over disagreements with the Guild, but they are few and far between. (I will abstain from name-dropping in this article, but famous Fi-Core actors can be found with a simple Google search)
What are the benefits of exercising the Fi-Core option?
With Fi-Core, you gain the right to work non-Union gigs while you retain your right work and to be represented by collective bargaining on Union jobs, including residual pay, health, dental and pension benefits, if you qualify for them under normal Union rules. That is pretty much the sole benefit of going Core. But as you should know, with the number of non-Union acting jobs out there vs. the number of SAG-AFTRA gigs available (not to mention the competition for those roles that exists) that's a tremendous benefit.
Well, that all sounds great! Best of both worlds, right? Well, yes and no.
Kenzo on IMDb