Actors and writers across Hollywood are struggling to make ends meet during the ongoing writer’s strike. Emmy Award-winning star Billy Porter recently revealed that he was forced to sell his home as SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild Of America (WGA) struggle to find common ground with the big wigs of Tinseltown.
“I have to sell my house because we’re on strike and I don’t know when we’re gonna go back,” the Pose star told the Evening Standard, a newspaper based in London.
“The life of an artist, until you make ‘F— you’ money — which I haven’t made yet — is still check-to-check. I was supposed to be in a new movie, and on a new television show starting in September. None of that is happening.”
When the deadline for new contracts passed on May 1, members from the WGA, the massive labor union that represents writers in film, TV and radio, went on strike demanding better pay and wages from the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP). The trade association represents over 350 television and film production companies in the U.S.
In July, SAG-AFTRA, the major labor union for actors in Hollywood, joined WGA on the front lines. In addition to better wages, members from both sides are also pushing to receive “viewership-based streaming residuals” and to “regulate the use of artificial intelligence” in Hollywood projects, according to the WGA’s proposal.
This is the first time in 60 years that both actors and writers have been on strike.
Billy Porter also lit into Disney’s Bob Iger for his controversial statement about the writer’s strike.
During the interview, Porter lit into Disney chief executive Bob Iger who recently claimed that those involved in the strike had demands that were “not realistic.”
Porter clapped back, “To hear Bob Iger say that our demands for a living wage are unrealistic? While he makes $78,000 a day?” “I don’t have any words for it, but: F— you,” the 53-year-old said of Iger’s comment. “That’s not useful, so I’ve kept my mouth shut. I haven’t engaged because I’m so enraged… But when I go back [to the U.S.] I will join the picket lines.”
In July, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher claimed that Iger made the hefty salary during an interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Porter, who will be starring in an upcoming biopic of the late great James Baldwin, fired back at the anonymous industry worker who told Deadline that the AMPTP would drag the strike on until writers and actors started “losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
The Hollywood vet responded, “We’re going to starve them out until they have to sell their apartments,’ you’ve already starved me out.”
Black writers are feeling the stress of the writer’s strike.
Black writers are being hit hard by the ongoing writer’s strike. During an interview with The Root in May, several writers claimed that they saw wages in the industry plummet when TV and film execs pivoted to streaming.
Tocarra Mallare, a writer for The Problem with John Stewart, said she could see firsthand how steaming has decimated the quality of life for members of her community. “Writing used to be a way for people in the creative field to lead a middle-class life; it’s turning into a gig economy,” the writer told The Root.
Jameel Saleem, the co-executive producer of Bob Burger’s, said it was “ridiculous” that he was being paid far less when writing for streaming shows versus network television shows.
“I worked on a Netflix show, it was a short run, we were paid below scale, and the show ended up not going anywhere, and then I wrote on another Netflix show, same thing, below scale, residuals very low, and now I work on a network show, and I see the disparities.”
Corey Dashaun, a third-year WGA member from Los Angeles echoed similar sentiments. The 34-year-old, who worked on the Peacock series One of Us Is Lying, told NBC News in early August, that it was “demoralizing” trying to build a successful career in the industry amid the strike.
If Dashaun doesn’t find work soon, he may no longer be able to live off of the “nest egg” that’s been keeping him afloat. “I by no means feel comfortable that my savings will last unless we go back to work soon,” he added.
At the top of August, SAG-AFTRA announced that the organization would be processing applications for emergency aid amid the crisis.
In a statement issued by SAG-AFTRA Foundation President Courtney B. Vance, the actor revealed that the organization had raised over $15 million for the Emergency Financial Assistance Program. George Clooney, Leonardo Di Caprio and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were some of the celebs who donated to the program.
“Our Emergency Financial Assistance Program is here to ensure that performers in need don’t lose their homes, have the ability to pay for utilities, buy food for their families, purchase life-saving prescriptions, cover medical bills and more,” Vance said. “It’s a massive challenge, but we’re determined to meet this moment.”
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