On Saturday, November 11th, the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) achieved a significant victory for actors in Hollywood. This breakthrough comes after a prolonged strike that brought attention to several critical issues facing actors in the rapidly evolving entertainment industry. The new agreement, as reported by the BBC, introduces groundbreaking changes that are set to reshape the landscape of acting and production.
Key aspects of the new deal include higher compensation for background actors and a bonus system for actors working on series or films released via streaming services that achieve success. This move acknowledges the changing dynamics of content consumption and aims to ensure that actors are fairly compensated in the era of digital streaming.
One of the most notable elements of the agreement is the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) protections. These protections require “informed consent and fair compensation” for any living or dead performer whose likeness is used. This development addresses the growing concerns about the ethical use of AI in recreating or simulating performances, ensuring that actors’ rights are safeguarded in the digital age.
The deal also sets new standards for makeup and hairstyling, including the requirement for experts adept at handling diverse hair textures and skin types. This change reflects a broader industry movement towards inclusivity and recognition of diverse beauty standards.
Another significant advancement is the mandate to hire intimacy coordinators on set for scenes involving sex and nudity. This requirement is a response to the industry’s growing awareness of the need for safe and respectful working environments, particularly in scenarios that can be sensitive for performers.
The strike, which led to this landmark agreement, had wide-ranging impacts, including production delays and actors’ absence from events such as premieres. Union rules prohibited them from engaging in any work, including promotion or publicity for projects, during the strike.
The new contract also addresses concerns about the potential displacement of background actors due to AI advancements. “No use of a digital replica can be used to evade engagement and payment of a background actor under this contract,” stated Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s chief executive officer.
This agreement marks a significant step forward in the recognition and protection of actors’ rights in Hollywood. It reflects the industry’s adaptation to technological advancements and changing social norms, ensuring that actors are compensated and protected in an era of digital transformation.