My Message to Hollywood Right Now (I work here)

In a time where people need encouragement, we need to be the ones to provide it.

My Message to Hollywood Right Now (I work here)

It's a unique time to say the least. Between the pandemic, a blistering presidental election, racial tension, and so much uncertainty, it's a tough time for many people in this world.

Hollywood has always took pride in being a place that is a trailblazer of ideas and movements, the latest being the #MeToo movement. As ironic as this sounds, that was a great time to work in Hollywood. Everyone seemed so united, so determined to use the platform we have at our finger tips to make change. Hollywood is a melting pot of people. People flock here from all over the world to act, write, direct, make music, or simply just have the chance to work on projects. Hollywood was thriving.... then a little something called COVID-19 came to town.

Like the majority of the industries, Hollywood shut down literally immediately. In one day in mid-march, we went from the middle of what's known as pilot season to being locked in our homes. Consider the vast majority of those who work in Hollywood are independent contractors, everybody was very concerned about the future. Unless you're in a union, you don't have an employer-provided healthcare plan, a steady income, sick pay, etc. You rely on bouncing from job to job as your income and usually have to provide things such as healthcare which can be incredibly scary during what has been described as a "once in a decade health crisis".

Then the murder of George Floyd happened. The world raged, and rightfully demanded justice. There was a sense of unity, but more of a sense of anger. Here in Hollywood, the mood still seems a bit bewildered. People are frustrated, appear hopeless, and the world-famous confidence of those who inhibit this part of LA seems to be dwindling.

Now as I write this we face a Los Angeles where COVID-19 cases are surging once again and Los Angeles face yet ANOTHER stay at home order. See the problem with the world's perception of Hollywood is they only consider the "Big" people. Actresses, Directors, Producers - what the industry refers to as "above the line" people. Then there's "below the line" people. Grips, electricians, gaffers, stand-in talent, extras, editors, production assistants, the list goes on and on.

Like I mentioned before, the vast majority of people who work in Hollywood aren't on salaries, they bounce from job to job as a way to make income. They can't be furloughed, have their salaries cut in half, or work from home. This may sound ignorant, but I've said since the start of COVID-19 that entertainment workers (those physically working on production, not those working in offices) should be deemed essential workers. In a time where we're locked in our homes, I'd say entertainment as more essential than ever before. If we can't go back to work soon, we'll see a mass exodus of industry professionals that simply can't afford to be an independent contractor in an industry that is standing still. Luckily, Governor Gavin Newson announced that if there is a second lockdown, entertainment workers will be deemed "essential". I'm already starting to see much more hope in those I talk too, and hopefully this news will allow us to bounce back.

My message to Hollywood; we need to shift back to the days of using our platform to encourage people and inspire change, even if we don't feel inspired ourselves. The days when we picked each other up, relied on each other and knew all eyes were on us. We helped spark a movement that changed the world, and in a time where people need encouragement, we need to be the ones to provide it once more.

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Jay Steel
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