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Want To Support The SAG-AFTRA Strike? Some Important DOs and DON'Ts


By Kristy AndersonPublished 9 months ago 8 min read
SAG-AFTRA are on Strike.

Hollywood has officially ground to a halt. The failure from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to meet the new contract terms set forth by the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Aka SAG-AFTRA), has prompted the latter organisation to join the Writer's Guild of America on Strike. While many projects had already pressed pause due to the Writer's Strike, SAG-AFTRA's Strike means that actors belonging to the Screen Actor's Guild have stopped work, and therefore nearly all Film and Television production has ceased. Guild actors will also not promote past or upcoming work as long as the Strike continues, which means no glitzy Red Carpet premieres, or talk show appearances.

Many fans want to help their favourite on-screen faces as they fight for a fair deal, but it's sometimes difficult to know the right move. Here's a quick rundown of what SAG-AFTRA are fighting for, and what you should, and should not, do to provide support.

Residual Payments

Mandy Moore in 'This Is Us'.

One of the biggest issues of the Strike involves how the current contract calculates when actors receive residual payments, and how much they are are paid. Residuals are long term payments to those who worked on a film or show, paid when the show or film is shown in reruns or broadcast on Network or Cable TV, or someone purchases a copy of the film or show. Currently, the amount due drops depending on the age of the content, or where the content is offered.

It used to be that actors, whether big names or smaller supporting players, could comfortably live on their residuals if they were between jobs, but this is no longer the case, particularly since the rise of streaming. Mandy Moore played family matriarch Rebecca Pearson in all six seasons of multi-generational drama This Is Us, one of the most successful Network TV shows in recent years. The show ended it's Network run only a year ago, but earlier seasons had already moved onto streaming services. Moore, who has been seen regularly picketing with co-stars, revealed in an interview supporting the strike that some of her This Is Us residual checks have contained as little as sixty cents. Others have seen no payment at all from streaming residuals.

SAG-AFTRA's current contract regarding residual payments was signed in 1960, and has seen little alteration since. The union wishes to adjust the contract to reflect the changes that come with the advent of streaming and easier access to older content. So far, Studios have not played ball.

Improved Health Insurance

Shannen Doherty in her 'Charmed' days.

Under SAG-AFTRA's current Health Insurance plan granted by the AMPTP, members must be actively working, and earn a certain amount per year, to access that insurance. Of course, the problem here is obvious: Some serious illnesses or injuries which may require the use of Insurance to help pay for medical care, could also prevent them from having worked and earned enough to qualify for that insurance.

Shannen Doherty, star of iconic TV classics such as Beverly Hills: 90210, and the early seasons of Charmed, has worked consistently in the industry since the early 80s, with her big break coming in the 90s. In 2015, Doherty was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She entered remission in 2017, but the Cancer returned at an advanced stage in 2019.

Shannen with close friend Sarah-Michelle Gellar.

Throughout her illness, Doherty continued to work when she was well enough to do so. Unfortunately, in June of 2023, the actress revealed that the Cancer had spread to her brain and was now Terminal. Around the same time, Doherty told fans that, despite having worked consistently until she was too ill to continue doing so, her earnings were now too low to qualify for Union Health Insurance.

Doherty, while past the height of her fame, is still a recognisable face. She might have savings to fall back on, or famous friends willing to lend a hand. But currently, 87% of the Union's membership pool do not currently qualify for their Health Insurance, many of whom do not have Doherty's fame or connections. SAG-AFTRA needs AMPTP input to change this, another reason for the Strike.

Limiting the use of AI

One of the most largely publicised elements of the Strike involves the rise of A.I technology in Hollywood, with Studios in a huff over SAG-AFTRA's refusal to sign a contract allowing them to enact a 'groundbreaking advancement' in the use of A.I tech. Signing this contract would allow Studios permission to let an A.I scan the background performers in a show or film, and then use these scans for other projects, in perpetuity. The performers would only be paid for their single day of work, and not any future use of their scanned likeness.

Such a plan would eliminate the need for Extras, who make up a vast number of SAG-AFTRA membership. The union also fears that allowing the plan could prove a slippery slope into Studios replacing actors with AI entirely, thereby destroying actors livelihoods, and acting as an art form.

So, what can fans do to help?

DO: Share information on Social Media and keep the Strike In the Public Eye

Unfortunately, in the era of TikTok, Twitter, and endless memes, our attention spans have become much shorter. This suits AMPTP and Studio heads, who would prefer that the general public lose interest in the Strike as soon as possible.

Don't let that happen. If you stumble across pictures, videos, or news articles related to the Strike on your Social Media feeds, share them, to ensure everyone knows the Strike is ongoing, and what it is about.

DON'T: Be Suckered By The Other Side

Studio Heads, such as Disney's Bob Iger, are claiming that both Actors and Writers are unrealistic in their proposed terms. They would have us believe that it is simply not possible to up residual payments, or improve Health Insurance in the current economic climate. Clearly, they are simply hoping the general public don't notice that people like Iger, as Guardians of the Galaxy star Sean Gunn points out in the above clip, are earning a whopping four hundred times more than the lowest paid workers at their companies.

Many of the strikes issues would be easily resolved if Studio CEOs were willing to give up even a small portion of their own Salary. This is especially apparent given that it has already been proven that the actors demands are not impossible to meet.

While most productions have been halted, SAG-AFTRA members are allowed continue working on projects from the studio A24 during the Strike, because they agreed to the Union's terms. While it has gained attention and acclaim recently for Oscar winners Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Whale, A24 is a relatively small scale, independent studio, with nowehere near the budgets of the larger production companies.

If A24 can meet SAG-AFTRA's terms, the bigwigs can too.

DO: Correct misconceptions about the Strike

Credit: Getty Images.

In a time where many are struggling financially, it may be easy for some to see the famous faces on the picket lines and dismiss them as greedy. They are already successful, why ask for more?

Let's put it this way. SAG-AFTRA is a union with 160,000 members. The vast majority are not the stars you see on the big and small screens. They are extras, background artists, Journeyman actors who play supporting roles, keeping productions looking real and alive. While the famous faces on the picket line may help bring more attention to the cause, they are far from the only ones a succesful strike will benefit.

DON'T: Accept payment from Studios to attend Film premieres in Cosplay

SAG-AFTRA members are not permitted to promote past or future projects while the Strike is ongoing. This means no Red Carpets, Talk Shows, or Social media promos. For a now famous example, the star-studded cast of Oppenheimer bailed on the film's World Premiere the moment the Strike was officially called.

Reports have emerged that Studios have been reaching out to popular cosplayers and Social Media influencers, offering paid invitations to attend premieres in place of their absent A-list stars. If you are a supporter of the Strike, don't accept these invites or payments. No-one wants to be a Scab making life harder for Struck Workers.

DO: Keep seeing Movies in Theatres

When the calling of the Strike was imminent, many actors flocked to Social Media to give their upcoming projects one last plug before Strike rules barred them from doing so. After all, the Strike doesn't remove their pride in their work. They still want it to be seen.

More importantly, fans avoiding movie theatres won't help SAG-AFTRA's cause, rather the opposite. Low Box Office sales could give AMPTP an excuse to dig their heels in on being unable to afford the actors' terms. Actors need us to keep seeing films to force AMPTP to acknowledge their worth. Also, in a growing number of cases, Box Office earnings are reflected in an actor's final pay packet, and, of course, there is the need to support Theatres still struggling to recover post-pandemic.

So, fear not, film buffs. You are free to attend your 'Barbenheimer' double feature without guilt.

DON'T: Cancel Streaming Subscriptions

One of the biggest issues of the Strike, as mentioned earlier, comes from AMPTP's unwillingness to renegotiate the amount and terms attached to Residual payments to reflect how streaming has changed content consumption. In an attempted show of support, many fans called for a mass boycott/cancellation of streaming subscriptions. While SAG-AFTRA appreciates that fans want to help, the response to the planned boycott was a resounding:


While film and television streaming has been around for some time, it still, technically and legally, falls under the category of 'New Media', with that classification being a large part of the problem. Studios claim that since streaming is still 'New', it is too risky to invest large amounts of money in. Any mass exodus from Streaming services would only prove the Studios right to worry about the risk, and give them more fodder to refuse SAG-AFTRA's demands.

Keep Streaming, buying movie tickets, and spreading the word. Hopefully, it won't be too long before Film Studios step up and do the right thing for the industry.

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About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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