Former Destiny’s Child member and actress, LeToya Luckett, provides valuable insights #FromTheFrontLines of the WGA/SAG AFTRA strike. The Greenleaf and Power Book III: Raising Kanan star stands in solidarity with her fellow actors on the picket line, advocating for a more equitable and just industry for not only the actors and writers but the more underrepresented employees that contribute to the creation of television shows and movies.
“I think people really don’t understand how this is having such an effect on not just the actors. When people think about the making of a show or a movie we think of just the actors, producers, and directors, but there are so many different departments that are involved in making a show or movie come to life,” Luckett explained. “Hair, makeup, wardrobe styling, transportation, the medics who are on set, the lighting. There’s so much that goes into this, and there’s so many families at risk of losing it all while this is going on.”
As an entertainer who has been on both the music and acting side of the industry, Luckett says she’s blessed to be able to dabble in different roles like hosting and appearances to help her stay afloat. Nonetheless, Luckett is among several other Black entertainers to speak out during the strike and hopes to dispel any myths that people believe regarding the entertainment industry.
“I think people think that it’s glamorous. When people see us in different roles, or when they think about Hollywood, they think of glamor, they think of this different lifestyle,” Luckett said. “No. It’s not like that. I think it’s like two percent of the acting community that might be doing a whole lot better than others, but there are actors who you’ve seen in several different projects who might be background actors who are still working, being waiters and waitresses or have a nine to five to keep the lights on.”
Writers and actors are advocating for improved wages, equitable usage of artificial intelligence, and enhanced provisions for healthcare and retirement benefits. One of the most prominent grievances among actors is the issue of residuals. Residuals refer to the extended payments provided to actors and other theatrical professionals when a TV show or movie is broadcast or re-aired after its initial release.
Since the strike began in July, actors have been voicing their concerns about the meager amounts reflected in their residual checks, with the majority of them falling below the $1.00 threshold. Some as low as three cents. “I’ve gotten one [residual check] for about a good seven cents. The stamp must’ve cost more than the check. This is what we’re striving for. Our residuals look nuts.”
Moreover, with the rise of streaming apps, actors and other television and movie staff don’t see residuals when shows are syndicated to apps such as Netflix and Hulu, writers, actors, and other professionals no longer see returns for their work. “Especially with streaming, someone could take my work, and be able to use it to their benefit for as long as they want to, and I not see a return on it,” Luckett said. “We are fighting for our livelihoods, our art, our likeness, all of these different things, that will eventually have a trickle-down effect into other industries.”
The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike marks a pivotal moment for the future of Hollywood. The strike is the first of its kind since the two guilds’ first joint strike in 1960. Per USA Today, the longest screenwriters’ strike was in 1998 for 154 days, and 95 days in 1980 for actors. Luckett’s hope though is that the SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) can reach common ground.
“I do feel that we have to take a deeper dive and a real look and be more considerate when it comes to our creatives. This is real work that we put in,” Luckett said.
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