- SAG-AFTRA often criticizes “unfair” wage requirements for health care
- The union announced Thursday that the leadership has formally voted to begin the strike
- The union was seeking higher wages and protection against artificial intelligence
Star Matilda Mara Wilson has revealed she never made enough money to qualify for the Screen Actors Guild of American Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA) healthcare during the broadcast era, as the Hollywood Actors Guild joins screenwriters on strike for the first time. Once in more than six decades.
Taking to Twitter after announcing Thursday that the union — which represents nearly 160,000 actors and entertainers — would join the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on the picket line, the actress wrote, “I haven’t acted much like an adult.” , but I was talking about a recurring character in one of the most critically acclaimed animated shows of all time, as well as playing an actual Disney villain.
“But thanks to broadcasting, I didn’t get enough to qualify for SAG-AFTRA Medicare.”
Wilson, 35, rose to fame in 1993 when she was six years old after landing the role of Natalie “Natalie” Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire in her first movie audition, having only appeared in a handful of TV commercials before.
She went on to play Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street the following year, and starred as Matilda Wormwood in Matilda in 1996 – cementing her status as one of the most popular child stars of the ’90s.
However, as an adult, the former Hollywood sweetheart took a huge step back from working in front of the camera, instead lending her vocal talents to animated shows.
In the tweet, the star — who has an estimated net worth of $500,000 — was referring to her roles in Netflix’s dark comedy BoJack Horseman and Disney’s TV series Big Hero 6, respectively.
SAG-AFTRA has often been criticized for its “unfair” requirements for an actor to qualify for health coverage.
The organization currently states that “You must earn $26,470 in the base earnings period to receive earned eligibility for active plan health coverage.”
Rising stars often lamented their earnings threshold, while famous Hollywood stars spoke of receiving insufficient help later in their careers.
In March, Charmed star Shannen Doherty, 51, accused SAG-AFTRA of canceling her union health insurance amid her battle with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
While in 2021 Sharon Stone revealed that she had her insurance canceled due to an unpaid $13 bill.
Elsewhere, SAG-AFTRA’s membership rules have long been criticized by upcoming actors, due to their strict eligibility rules.
The most common way to become a member is to get hired on a project covered by the union, but many in Hollywood take years — or even decades — before they get their big break on a union project.
Until then, they are forced to either join a sister union or create their own independent projects to qualify for SAGIndie.
The union’s rules are under scrutiny after Thursday morning saw the announcement that the union’s leadership had formally voted to stop work after their demands for higher wages and protection from artificial intelligence were not met.
SAG-AFTRA was demanding higher wages to counter inflation, and guarantees for their future livelihood.
In addition to salaries when they’re actively working, actors earn payments called “residuals” each time a movie or show they starred in airs on network or cable—which is especially useful when performers are between projects.
But streaming shows like Netflix and Disney+ don’t disclose viewing numbers for their shows, and offer the same flat price for everything on their platforms, regardless of popularity.
Further muddying the waters is the issue of artificial intelligence. The union was looking for a “pioneering artificial intelligence proposal that protects the digital likeness of actors”.
Representatives are concerned that their digital images may be used without their permission or appropriate compensation.
Announcing the strike Thursday afternoon, artist Fran Drescher, who serves as president of SAG-AFTRA, said: “We demand respect! You can’t exist without us!”
“What happens to us matters,” the Nanny star added. “What happens to us happens in all areas of the business.
When bosses put Wall Street and greed as their top priority and forget about the core shareholders who make the machine work, we’re in trouble.
“The jig is over, and we demand respect,” she said.
Almost immediately afterwards, screenwriters began picketing outside the Netflix offices in Hollywood chanting, “Pay your actors!”
At the same time, Oppenheimer’s crew pulled out of the film’s UK premiere in solidarity with the actors’ union.
SAG-AFTRA strike rules
Under SAG-AFTRA directives, all covered services and work performed must be withheld, including but not limited to:
Camera business manager, such as:
- the acting
- Perform stunts
- Aircraft piloting on camera
- Performance capture or motion capture action
The main work is off camera, such as:
ADR / Looping
TV trailers (Promos) and theatrical trailers
- stunt coordination and related services
- backup work
- Image and/or marital body
- Fittings, wardrobe tests and makeup tests
- Rehearsals and camera tests
- scan is done
- Interviews and tests (including via self-tape)
Promotion/publicity services for work under television/theatre contracts, such as:
- Personal appearances
- Fan shows
- events to consider
- Prize presentations
- Podcast appearances
- Social media
- Studio displays
Negotiating, entering into and/or agreeing to:
- An agreement to perform covered services in the future
- Any new agreement relating to promotion associated with a Covered Project
- Create and use digital replicas, including through re-use of previous work
- Performance on a trailer for a hit production or other ancillary content associated with a successful production