Jammie Patton, known for her work on “Inventing Anna,” “Justified,” and “Remember the Titans,” grew up on the South Side creating art in her living room.
“I actually started out directing in my grandmother’s living room on the South Side of Youngstown,” said Patton.
Patton and Sherry Richards, known for her work on “Atlanta,” “The Underground Railroad,” and “The Resident,” are part of the 82% of actors in the union who do not act full-time. They are the kinds of actors who are trying to make ends meet, even before the strike began.
“Day jobs and temping have kept me afloat during many lean times,” said Patton.
Residuals, the money actors and writers get when a viewer watches a rerun or streams their show, also continue to lessen.
“And I personally have seen my residual checks dry up. Now, I’m not Viola Davis, but I’ve worked over the past 20 years. And those thin times, you’re hoping for a residual check of $200 to $300. I’m getting residual checks for $10,” said Patton.
“We should just get paid more when it comes to the residuals. The residuals are very, very small. At one point, I got a check for 3 cents,” said Richards.
As the strike continues, Richards and Patton say SAG-AFTRA’s requests are simple.
“Reading the list of what we want, it doesn’t seem like we’re asking for a whole lot,” said Patton.
But it goes beyond fair pay and residual checks. SAG-AFTRA is also asking for limits on what studios use artificial intelligence for.
“What we’re asking for is not just benefiting myself, but it’s also benefitting all the other actors who come after me,” said Richards.
The writers’ and actors’ unions are asking people to do one thing to help their cause.
“Well, right now, the unions are asking that people don’t stop streaming. Still stream. Still go out and go to the movies. But, just stay involved. Go to the SAG-AFTRA website and sign up to get the newsletter and find out how you can be an ally,” said Patton.
Richards says she will continue to support her union, even as her budget gets tight.
“I support the SAG-AFTRA union. I’m part of the union. I want us to be paid fairly,” said Richards.
Though her asks in the new contract are small, both the unions and studios are holding fast to their demands. The focus of the strike is not to get big movie stars even bigger checks. It’s for the smaller actors, who just want to make ends meet.
“We’re not working. We would rather be working and getting what we deserve to be paid…so that we can pay our bills and also so that we can have adequate health care. All of those things, we deserve that, we want that…and this is why we’re having the strike,” said Richards.
Patton says people have to stop treating the arts, and this strike, as frivolous.
“You save lives through the arts. You change hearts, you change minds. This is necessary for any regular, civilized…not even civilized. For any society to exist, we need the arts,” said Patton.
The studios released a statement last week to the Associated Press and they say they hope to reach an agreement with writers and actors soon.
Patton says this strike will not just affect actors and writers but will spread to companies across the board.
“I want to see actors get a fair deal. This is unfortunate that the money keeps going to the top and this is not just in the entertainment industry, this is across the board,” said Patton.