ATLANTA - Hollywood actors vote to go on strike. They’ll join the writers, who’ve been on the picket line for months. The walkout effectively shuts down the entertainment industry.
The unions want better pay as well as greater protections against streaming services and artificial intelligence.
Candice Renee, who stars in the Tyler Perry series "Bruh," says Hollywood studios and streaming services are hauling in billions of dollars from new technologies. But she says they’re not passing those profits onto the actors who make the TV shows and movies possible.
"The streaming contracts are not set up in a way that we receive residuals for all the times that people are watching these programs," Renee said.
Some actors used to live off residuals, the money they get paid for reruns. Renee says streaming means no reruns, which means paltry pay. "I got a residual the other day for a penny and that was after taxes," Renee said.
Actors also worry about artificial intelligence. The technology in the future could let studios and streaming services replicate actors’ images without having to pay them.
Kim Steele, a Broadway and movie actor, says she just wants fair compensation, "which means not just a one time, here’s X-amount of dollars and we can use your image for eternity. We want to allow studios to use our voices and images, but just pay us fairly."
David Schweidel, a professor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, says AI could save studios a lot of money in lower wage costs, but could put more actors out of work.
"We’re seeing rapid advancement in AI technology," Schweidel said. "Within a couple of years, it may be possible to say I’m going to an entire motion picture where I don’t have to hire an ‘A-list’ actor. In fact, I don’t have to hire any actors."