Los Angeles, CA--Let me begin by saying I’m a member in good standing with SAG-AFTRA. I began with SAG and later a merger with its weak sister, AFTRA happened. SAG is for theatrical performers, film actors, voiceover and commercial actors.
AFTRA is for TV or radio news reporters, anchors and some television actors. Only a tiny percentage of them have and financially successful careers.
AFTRA representation is crappy. For example, there are TV news reporters that qualify for food stamps in LA. I can’t remember when AFTRA didn’t simply cave into the desires of the production companies.
That SAG-AFTRA merger destroyed the SAG health insurance leaving many working and retired actors in a sudden financial hotspot.
What most people don't know is that only a tiny percentage of the sag actors are multi-millionaires. There are working actors that although are not well known get work almost every day. The other members are virtually unemployed because they lack talent or don't have effective theatrical agents. They scrounge for crumbs occasionally getting work. Most actors are really gamblers hoping that they can somehow beat the house and get rich.
The biggest roadblock is that the union does not seriously crack down on scab work. Desperate and hungry actors really have no choice but to do commercials for snake oil drug products and those annoying infomercials. Of course, they are paid near to nothing and get no residuals as these commercials are played repetitively and endlessly. Imagine trying to be a screen idol as your face is continually broadcast on the television airwaves for months touting a drug for bladder control or erectile dysfunction.
SAG-AFTRA understandably does not want to hurt their members by enforcing rule #1. However, no enforcement is much worse because the production companies then gleefully rip-off hungry actors waiting in cattle call lines for any work. It is a lose, lose situation except for the producers.
Smart performers have day or better yet night jobs.
The A&B list actors don't want or need to go out on strike because they are living comfortably in the rarefied air of Beverly Hills or Calabasas.
The other actors that don't get enough work need to be paid much better so that they can keep roofs over their heads. Imagine for a second watching a movie where the only actors are the top stars. It just would never work without the other actors filling in the scenes.
As you can see there is truly a Boulevard of Broken Dreams in Hollywood. It’s also loaded with too many producers and casting directors, both Gay and straight with their pants down selling film roles for flesh.
With progress in technology every job faces amazing changes. Now we have artificial intelligence that will write the film scripts and give us theatrical performers as real as any you have ever seen. That gives us to wonder what the industry will be like in another 20 years.
I will be on the picket line in the current extreme heat to support my brothers and sisters.