Emmy and Tony-winning actor and singer Billy Porter is feeling the financial impact of the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in Hollywood. The entertainment industry has come to a standstill due to these strikes, leaving many artists without substantial income and facing uncertainty about the future.
Porter revealed in an interview with London's Evening Standard that he is under pressure to downsize his living situation, including the sale of his house, due to the lack of work opportunities. He expressed the challenges of living as an artist without a steady income, particularly when not yet achieving financial stability.
"I have to sell my house. Because we’re on strike. And I don’t know when we’re gonna go back [to work]."
"The life of an artist, until you make f**k-you money — which I haven’t made yet — is still check-to-check.”
The actor had been looking forward to working on both a new movie and a television series, both of which were slated to start in September. However, with the strikes disrupting production schedules, these projects have been put on hold, leaving Porter without the expected income.
Porter's frustration with the situation is palpable, especially in light of comments attributed to an unnamed Hollywood studio executive who mentioned that the "endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
To that, Porter said:
“So to the person who said ‘we’re going to starve them out until they have to sell their apartments,’ you’ve already starved me out."
Porter also took aim at Disney CEO Bob Iger, who recently described the striking artists as very disruptive” while making demands that are “not realistic":
“To hear Bob Iger say that our demands for a living wage are unrealistic? While he makes $78,000 a day? I don’t have any words for it, but: f**k you."
“That’s not useful, so I’ve kept my mouth shut. I haven’t engaged because I’m so enraged. I’m glad I’ve been over here. But when I go back I will join the picket lines.”
Many empathized with Porter's situation and stood in solidarity with those on strike.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) initiated their strike on May 2, and SAG-AFTRA followed suit on July 13, marking the first double strike of actors and writers since 1960.
Both unions have united in their fight for higher wages, fair compensation from streaming platforms, and protection against the encroachment of artificial intelligence in the entertainment industry.
The impact of these strikes is far-reaching, and they have the potential to significantly affect California's economy. The last writers' strike in 2007-08 cost an estimated $2.1 billion, and with both unions now halting work, a much higher toll is anticipated.
As the strikes continue, the demands of the actors and writers stand firm, representing a united front against the studios' negotiation tactics and a determined effort to secure better working conditions and fair treatment in the rapidly evolving landscape of the entertainment industry.