SAG-AFTRA and WGA members go on strike at Netflix, Sunset Gower and Paramount Studios on July 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Actors’ strike: The Marvel actress received a check left over for 14 cents

Members of the Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) picketed outside Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on Friday, lining the sidewalks and chanting, Whose Stories? Our stories, in solidarity with each other. Despite the summer heat, a sizable number of actors and writers showed up to show mutual support and express their frustrations with Hollywood studios and streamers who couldn’t strike fair deals for new contracts with their separate unions. Lady Gaga songs like The Edge of Glory and Poker Face were played on a loop outside the gates of Paramount as dozens and dozens of people carried signs saying, I’d like a support yacht someday and I’m Netflix Barbie: poor and, AI has no childhood trauma.

Some actors who spoke Rolling stone they voiced their concerns about pay, residuals, and the general state of the industry, but the glaring topic on everyone’s mind was artificial intelligence. Bri Collins, who notably appeared in Amazons The underground railway as a character named Olivia, she said she showed up to bash Paramount because she feels AI is going to be a big bane in our industry.

It’s so crazy how they can use our likeness, Collins said.

Before starring in the Amazon TV miniseries The underground railway, created by Barry Jenkins and nominated for seven Emmy awards, Collins said she got her start in Hollywood as a background actress. While AI is a pressing issue for all actors, Collins said, it’s especially important for background actors who already get paid so little but depend on their gigs for salaries and to advance their careers in the industry.

I started as an extra background many, many years ago and it’s very important to them to get paid for what they’re actually doing, she said. Just knowing that these producers want to take their scans and use them for eternity without their consent, giving them fair compensation for it, or without them having proper knowledge, I think is disgusting.

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Voice actress Nicole Vigil said she showed up on Friday because she’s frustrated that studios haven’t moved into the 21st century and caught up with technology, including artificial intelligence. Vigil has been voicing characters for years in video games such as Harry Potter: The Magic Awakens, The Walking Dead: The Definitive Telltale SeriesAND Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery. Given his role in the entertainment industry, Vigil believes it’s especially important to implement guidelines when it comes to using AI.

AI is kind of the Wild West right now. It’s been in development for many years, but it seems to have hit some warp speed over the past year, particularly over the past six months, and lawmakers seem to always be behind the eight ball when it comes to warning about anything, really, which is why we need the union more than ever to be the leader in this fight, Vigil explained.

We don’t want to get rid of AI, that’s a misconception many people have with people they target, he added. AI can be a great thing, it can be an incredibly useful thing, but it can also be an incredibly dangerous thing, so we need some guardrails so that people can continue to make a living.

Brian Lee, a 30-year-old actor, said he agreed that AI needs to be regulated because actors already earn such low wages compared to CEOs and studio executives who will ultimately benefit from AI.

It’s really sad that you have CEOs who make millions and millions of dollars and they don’t want to give us just a small percentage, and it would be even worse if we don’t regulate AI, he said.

The worst-case scenario, according to Lee, is that his entire profession and career trajectory could simply vanish out of the blue if studios and streamers are allowed to use AI as a means of achieving the likeness of actors and entertainers forever.

One day you think you’re working and then all of a sudden bam! your job is gone and your livelihood is gone, Lee said. That’s enough of a struggle over the years to get a stable job, let alone deal with robots that could take over the world and all this other stuff. We must unite and come to mutual understanding.

Jenny Anne Hochberg (C) joins SAG-AFTRA members and supporters to cheer and scream as she poses for a group photo at the picket line as the SAG-AFTRA Actors’ Union strike continues on Day 9 in front of Paramount in Times Square on July 21, 2023, in New York City.

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Even aspiring actors who are not yet members of the guild were present at Friday’s strike in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA. They don’t have to be union members for these same issues to be worrisome, they said Rolling stone. Anna Manheimer, a 35-year-old Los Angeles resident, echoed other actors’ sentiments about artificial intelligence.

I don’t think AI can write or act. It’s soulless, Manheimer said. He has no real life experience. Sure, it can learn 100 years of film industry history and performances, but it won’t create anything touching, personal, or unique, and these are the things that catch our attention when we watch TV shows, movies, or any other projects.

Keira Weiss, a 19-year-old student and aspiring actress, agreed. Weiss said he’s excited to finally show up to strike in person and stand up for up-and-coming young actors who are troubled by how AI can potentially impact the entertainment industry early in their careers.

Right now, as part of the younger generation and seeing what AI is and how it’s going to affect us in the future, it’s scary, Weiss said. It’s scary for artists, it’s terrifying.

Background actor Cora Maple Lindell said she was grateful AI became such a major talking point during the strike because now people in the entertainment industry are taking a closer look at the potential risks before it’s too late. AI doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing for actors, Lindell said, but if these heightened conversations hadn’t occurred because of the strike, the studios might have let it get out of hand.

If this attack wasn’t happening now, then AI could become something that has gotten out of control, Lindell said. But given the reaction we have right now, I think it’s something that can be used to benefit everyone rather than hurt people.

Nolle René Bercy in Marvel’s Cloak & Danger.

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Outside of the AI ​​issue, actors going on strike outside of Paramount Studios have also voiced their concerns about wages, residuals, and the industry as a whole.

David Beeks, who appeared on Hulus Pam & Tommy miniseries, told Rolling stone he doesn’t think the streaming model is realistic or right for working actors.

There has been a huge shift in how the entertainment ecosystem has functioned because of streaming, Beeks said. The studios aren’t making as much money as they used to and they don’t want to share it with us, but they weren’t making a livable amount of money.

Nolle Rene Bercy, who starred in Marvels Cloak and dagger and has participated in several walkouts across Los Angeles throughout the week, thinks what’s happening in Hollywood reflects larger social issues that are impacting workers across industries.

Artificial intelligence is not the only problem. It’s greed, Bercy said. Human greed is the problem.

Greed is also the biggest problem for background actor Kimani Bradley, who has appeared in shows like Your Honor AND Scream Queen as well as the 2020 movie pre-war played by Janelle Mone.

I believe everyone from the janitor up should earn a fair wage, Bradley said. Netflix, man, makes close to a billion dollars a month. Meanwhile, banks won’t cash even a check as small as the ones they’re sending to plaintiffs for residuals. Why even bother sending checks for pennies?

Bercy played the role of Evita in Marvels Cloak and dagger series, which aired on Freeform for two seasons starting in June 2018 before being canceled in May 2019. According to Bercy, her last remaining salary from Marvel/Disney was 14 cents.


After appearing in Amazons The underground railwayCollins said he’s barely made any money off the residuals, a norm he hopes will change for actors.

I’m on an Emmy Award-nominated TV show and haven’t seen a cent in over a year, Collins said. I hope they can start paying us because there are so many people who join Amazon, they make billions of dollars every month. Also Netflix and all the major studios.

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