HOLLYWOOD—Hollywood Actors announced that they will be going on strike initiating the first dual strike with the Writers’ Guild of America in six decades.
Union Leaders voted for the strike on Friday, July7, after discussing a new three-year contract between the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and major studios, streaming services and production companies. They argue that streaming in particular has taken over the industry in recent years and has cheated actors from their share of the profits. Majority of earnings has been going to executives leaving hard-working actors behind.
As someone who has known many musicians, actors and directors who were just starting out I can safely say Entertainment can be one of the most exploitative industries worldwide. Like many industries those on the bottom do the hard work while those on top reap the benefits of their labor.
Remember the all-female 90’s Hip-Hop sensation TLC? At a press conference in 1996 after they had performed at The Grammy Awards, they told the press that after selling 10 million records “we are broke as broke can be.” Some have deemed this as the most honest moment in music history.
TLC’s member Chili can be remembered stating, “we’re not going to sugar coat things anything anymore. We’ve been quiet long enough can I get an amen?” Chili continued, “We are the biggest selling female group ever. 10 million albums worldwide. We have worked very hard, and we’ve been in this business for five years and we are broke as broke can be.”
Left-eye, TLC’s member who passed away from a car accident at 30, added, “trust me you can sell 10 million albums and be broke if you have greedy people behind you.”
Unfortunately this is the truth for many artists in Hollywood whether it’s actors, singers, musicians, screen writers, you name it. If wage theft can occur with TLC, one of the biggest bands of all time, imagine what it’s like for artists who are just trying to break into the industry.
I’ve also known those in management in the entertainment industry as well and I have heard their counterargument. They argue that they are the ones that give struggling artists opportunity and therefore the artists should be grateful for the gigs that management and other executives provide for them. Like the old adage goes, “it’s hard to make it in entertainment.”
Is it really ethical though to disproportionately horde the wealth that the struggling artists worked so hard to generate? After all, it’s the artists that create all those TV shows we love, those songs we listen to when we’re down to lift us up and brings life to the characters we are so in intrigued by.
Even bigger stars in Hollywood have announced their solidarity with the artists on strike. George Clooney told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview, “This is an inflection point in our industry. For our industry to survive that has to change. For actors, that journey starts now,” Clooney stated. He added that “actors and writers in large numbers have lost their ability to make a living.”
It is interesting to note that a big-time celebrity like George Clooney who has made bank throughout the years in Hollywood would come out and support actors and writers who don’t hold the same clout or wealth he does. It’s possible that Clooney remembers what it was like for him when he was a young actor and has probably witnessed many inequities throughout his career. Or maybe Clooney is simply a commonsense person and understands that what is right is right.