Following the death of David Crosby in 1985, Rowena Wallace was elected president of Actors Equity in 1986. Rowena spoke to Prue MacSween, "I laughed and thought: 'How ridiculous' (when approached for the job) but then I went away and thought about it and decided it would be a terrific challenge for me and also an opportunity to get involved in all areas of the industry.
"I’ll be able to understand how the industry works as a whole instead of just my fairly narrow experiences as an actor and I’d like to be involved and influential in union decisions. I don’t run around saying that we simply must do everything that the union says, but I believe they’re necessary and I think the industry would be impossible if we didn’t have somebody to guide it and to keep all those loose ends from unravelling. Otherwise people are taken advantage of, and that happens in any kind of profession.
"I don't know half of it yet. I may be terrible at chairing meetings and organising. Only time will tell. I’ll never fill Don Crosby’s shoes. But I have been 20 years in the business (made her TV acting debut in 1966). I don’t know that Equity members want to change their image, but I think they certainly want to boost it. But the business of the union will go on, and decisions will still be made and I won’t make any change to that in essence.
"We have to have a constant monitoring process so that as the industry changes and different influences are brought to bear on it, we have to update policies and decisions. What we've got to do is convince the members that it's not the union that it used to be and that it's a much more cohesive and active union. It doesn’t have the sort of infighting which was a problem in the earlier days and which turned a lot of people off. I'd like to see more people participating, but it depends on whether you’re in town that day or at the other end of Australia or overseas. The people you get at the meeting are the people who are able to attend."