According to CBS News , there are currently about 65,000 Hollywood actors participating in the protest, causing film production to halt. They struggle for better pay amid inflation and the rapidly growing entertainment industry.
Performers say their salaries have plummeted in the streaming era. The vast majority of actors cannot make a living. According to the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), a group of studios including Apple, Amazon, Netflix, NBCUniversal, Sony and Paramount, refused to negotiate a salary increase, sharing streaming revenue for actors.
“Most of our members do not meet the salary threshold for health insurance of $26,000 a year, most of them work part-time,” said Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA.
Representative of the Union of Film and Television Producers, said that Hollywood is misjudging their position leading to the current stagnation.
Weird salary 1 cent
According to SAG-AFTRA, there were two main points of disagreement that led to the strike. Actors are demanding higher wages from studios, tightening regulations on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in creative projects.
In terms of salary, the actor wants an 11% increase from baseline this year, an 8% increase over the next two years. That is to offset high inflation in the past two years, according to the SAG-AFTRA report.
However, the studio even opposes a 5% increase this year and 7.5% in the next two years, according to the document.
Actors want to be compensated for their money, especially when the film they have acted in is rerun by the studio, from film to television. This is a steady income for non-A-star actors. But now that is no longer the case.
The advent of streaming services upset payments, jeopardizing acting, which was supposed to be quite stable. The streaming service doesn’t pay actors every time their work is viewed.
Instead, actors are paid a smaller amount when the movie plays on the app. So actors make less money acting for streaming company, even hit series.
“The current model devalues our members, affecting their ability to make a living,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA.
Brandee Evans, who appeared in 17 episodes of the series P-Valley of Starz, says his recent account balance is almost empty. Actor Mark Proksch told The Wrap that cameo in 19 episodes The Office helping him earn more money than starring in What We Do In the Shadows of FX.
Mandy Moore, who starred in the popular show This Is Us said she received the remaining streaming check for 1 cent, a record low amount, which didn’t buy anything the actor was supposed to receive.
SAG proposed that its members get a share of the revenue from streaming platforms, but the studio declined, according to the document.
AI causes actors to quit their jobs?
AI is the sticking point in negotiations. Actors want to be protected against the idea that AI will replace actors, first the masses, then the actors have an important role in the works. Actors want to be sure they’re not being replaced by AI.
The prospect of being replaced by digital copies scares real actors, especially mass actors. For studios, small roles in movies can be dropped or replaced, but for some people, it’s a career that helps them earn a living and provide for their family.
The head of SAG-AFTRA called AI an “existential threat” to the acting profession. “They suggested that actors could do a few movies, our resumes were scanned, paid for, but then they had full ownership of the copyright, portraits for life. They would use that image in any project they wanted, without consent, without compensation. In other words, we were ‘selling ourselves’,” he said.
However, an AMPTP spokesperson denied that. The studio’s latest proposal is to “allow only one company to use a digital copy of a back-up actor in a film. Any other use requires the consent and negotiation of the actor with minimal payment,” the spokesperson told. CBS.
While a few big stars can earn sky-high salaries in the tens of millions of dollars per film, most other actors earn much less, as evidenced by the dollar amount of money from Mandy Moore’s streaming service.
Research shows that about 87% of SAG-AFTRA members earn less than $26,000/year from acting. That makes them ineligible for health insurance from the union.
In 2022, nationally, the average actor’s salary is about $18 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means more than half of the actors receive below-average salaries. In California alone, the average hourly wage for an actor is $27.73, while in New York it’s $63.39.
Such an hourly wage could translate into an attractive payday, but that only happens if the actor is employed full-time. The characteristic of acting work is that they do not act all year round, so most actors earn very little, many have to work part-time jobs to pay for their day-to-day living.