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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Power of the Pen: The actors strike is over

After months of protest, the SAG-AFTRA strike has reached its conclusion.

graphic for Odessa Gaine's column "The Power of the Pen"

Graphic by Shea Tomac

The 2023 actors strike officially ended at 12:01 a.m on Nov. 9. P.S.T. After 118 days, a deal was finally struck between SAG-AFTRA and major Hollywood studios. A unanimous agreement was made following negotiations on Nov. 8 that led to significant wins for the actors union. 

With the end of the strike, actors are now back to promoting their upcoming projects across several platforms. Stars of “The Marvels” (2023) officially began their promotions when the strike ended, as Brie Larson, along with “Loki” (2021) star Tom Hiddleston, made a last minute appearance on “The Tonight Show” (1954). Timothée Chalamet joined “Saturday Night Live” (1975) this past week just in time for the strike to let up. While promoting his two upcoming films, “Wonka” (2023) and “Dune: Part Two” (2024), Chalamet joked about finally being able to talk about anything other than his new perfume commercial. And as Oscar season comes closer and closer, we can anticipate seeing more and more promotions hit our screens. 

This contract includes bonuses based on streaming numbers, immediate minimum compensation increases, disclosures of the viewership streaming statistics, a minimum number of background actors on productions, relocation bonuses for up to six months and limits on artificial intelligence use on productions.

Actors specifically won big when it came to streaming. Stunt coordinators on television and media productions will be given fixed residuals for streaming productions. Less prominent actors will also have more compensation as significant bonuses have been given for all streaming productions and actors. Background actors’ wages will now increase by 11% and their wages will now be equal on both the West and East Coasts for the first time. 

One of the biggest points of contention — the use of artificial intelligence — was also addressed in negotiations. For studios to use AI to recreate or digitally replicate guild members, they must have informed consent from and give equitable compensation to the parties involved. This includes both living and dead actors and is applicable to both AI created for a production or licensed for other uses. 

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the national executive director and chief negotiator of SAG-AFTRA has stated that, “Once ratified, this deal will fundamentally reset how our membership is compensated to account for the growth of streaming and, for the first time, institute deep protections against the encroachment of AI technology.” 

The contract also includes changes to hair and makeup departments and accessibility protocols. The eradication of inappropriate wigging and paintdowns, accessibility of translation services and the use of gender neutral language on productions will all help to create a more welcoming space for actors on productions. 

As things continue to move forward in the world of entertainment, it’s important to remember why these strikes existed. They are a statement to large companies and those who do not understand the time and talent put into the entertainment world that everyone, from the individual part-time actor to the working class actors who dedicate their lives to this job, deserves rightful compensation for their work. And when it is not given, it will be demanded and taken.