The picket lines outside major entertainment industry headquarters have become a symbol of unity between actors and writers, who are joining forces in a strike for fair pay and benefits. The presence of well-known actors alongside lesser-known performers emphasizes the common struggle faced by all professionals in the industry.
Kevin Bacon, among the famous faces picketing outside Viacom headquarters in New York, emphasized the importance of recognizing that not all actors are highly paid, highlighting the working-class nature of the profession. This sentiment was echoed by Whitney Morgan Cox, a working actor who appeared on the CBS series “Criminal Minds,” who found it powerful to witness the solidarity between writers and actors who typically work separately in production.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) voted unanimously to join the strike after their contract expired, aligning with the Writers Guild of America, who began striking on May 2. Paul Scheer, who was already striking as a writer, expressed his commitment to the cause, now participating in the strike as an actor as well.
The extreme heat in some locations affected picketing plans, with afternoon pickets being called off in Los Angeles. However, the determination of the striking workers remained strong, and a union rally was scheduled in Atlanta, which has become a hub for productions due to tax breaks and cost advantages.
The strike has gained attention beyond the entertainment industry, even reaching the White House. During a press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre affirmed President Biden’s support for fair pay and benefits for all workers, including actors and writers. The administration hopes for a resolution that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved.
While both actors and writers emphasize the importance of reaching a deal, the vast divide between the unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing studios and production companies, suggests that a resolution may not be imminent. Key issues include residual payments, which have been significantly impacted by the shift to streaming, and the unpaid use of their work and likeness by artificial intelligence avatars.
The AMPTP claims to have offered fair terms on these issues, but the striking workers believe there is still much to negotiate. Bacon, like many others, stands in solidarity with the working and middle-class members of the union who rely on these fundamental provisions in their contracts.
As the strike continues, actors and writers remain united in their pursuit of fair treatment and recognition of their contributions to the industry.