By our entertainment editors
14 July 2023 at 08:24
It’s going to be quiet in Hollywood for a while. More than 160,000 members of the SAG-AFTRA trade union stopped their work on Thursday evening. In an explanation of the strike, well-known actors say that action is really necessary.
Many people think of Hollywood as huge mansions, duro cars and closets full of designer clothes. But a lot of the actors have to make ends meet, Abbott Elementary actor Tyler James Williams (pictured right) tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“Since the streaming services are big, many befriended actors barely make ends meet in an expensive city like Los Angeles.” For example, Williams has noticed that many colleagues cannot afford housing. “Actors and writers should be able to make a living.”
That problem also worries actress Taraji P. Henson (in the middle of the photo). “There are many actors who are not as financially stable as I am, for example. Writers also have that problem. It’s all about greed,” she refers to the bosses of the streaming services. They collect the income from the successful series and films, but do not distribute it fairly enough among all employees.
What are the consequences of the strike?
Hollywood writers have been on strike for ten weeks now. As a result, various projects have been postponed, such as the new season of The Last of Us. Actors also laid down work on Thursday evening. In any case, these are the actors who are members of the SAG-AFTRA trade union. They have about 160,000 members, so many well-known and big names will stop acting in the near future. Other film work is also on hold. So they don’t give interviews, don’t do photo shoots to promote a new project and don’t walk the red carpets. This may mean things get very quiet at some major film festivals that take place at the end of the summer, such as the Toronto Film Festival scheduled for September 7. It is unclear how long the strike will last. Many sources in Hollywood think it will be some time before an agreement is reached that both parties can agree on.
‘People are sometimes away from home for months’
Previously, both actors and writers could earn well from royalties. These days, actors earn much less from reps on streaming services.
“We don’t say how much money the CEOs make because we don’t want to shame them,” says an anonymous show producer. “But they should be ashamed. They have money, in abundance. They just don’t want to give it to the actors and writers.”
“Everyone should get a fair wage,” says actress Dominique Fishback (known from Swarm). People are sometimes months away from home and their families to make a film or series.”
“We stand up for the art we make,” said Abbott Elementary actress Sheryl Lee Ralph. “No, we don’t all make millions. We’re just people who want to enjoy the work we do, we want to get by. That’s what this is about.”
Concerns about artificial intelligence
Many actors are concerned about the arrival of artificial intelligence, or AI. This technique could replace actors, or even write scripts.
Actors and writers must be protected against this, says Theo James (The White Lotus, left in the photo). “AI will develop much further in a short time. It must be established that the work of actors is not endangered by this.”
“AI is a huge problem for Hollywood,” says actress Henson. “So I’m all set to revolt.”
“I’m very hopeful that we can reach a compromise that makes actors and writers feel protected,” said Barry actor Anthony Carrigan. “That we get a fair wage and are also treated as people. Real, living people, who make films and series that the audience appreciates so much. Because nothing beats authenticity.”