For many actors, the SAG-AFTRA strike means professional and financial hardship—but this guide can help. From aid programs to ideas for growing your career without scabbing, here’s our roundup of resources to help you during the strike.
A variety of organizations have made funds available for those who are financially burdened by the strike. Each resource has its own requirements for assistance, so be sure to check whether you qualify.
SAG’s Emergency Financial Assistance and Disaster Relief Fund
If you’re a dues-paying SAG member in urgent financial need because of an unexpected life crisis (including loss of work because of a strike or production shutdown), this fund may be for you. To apply, you will need to provide supporting documentation that shows you meet the eligibility requirements. This includes proof of the cause of your hardship, including tax returns, bank statements, bills, and other documentation that shows immediate and urgent financial need.
SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union
The credit union created a financial assistance program available to existing members who are impacted by the strike. You can contact the bank to learn more about its Work Disruption Loan or how to defer the payment on an existing SAG FCU loan.
Entertainment Community Fund
Formerly known as the Actors Fund, this social services program offers support to those in the industry who cannot pay for living expenses, such as housing and food, in the immediate future. To be considered, send a completed application and supporting documentation. (The program is asking those who “can cover your expenses for the next few months” to hold off on applying.) The ECF also has a database of resources that you can filter by state.
Most states don’t allow striking workers to collect unemployment benefits or unemployment insurance. However, states including New York and New Jersey have passed legislation granting unemployment benefits to some strikers. Contacting a labor attorney in your area may be your best bet, since laws vary from state to state. Check out CareerOneStop’s database to research unemployment benefits in your area.
Actors are inherently resilient—you need to be to make it in the biz. This often means wearing multiple hats to pay the bills until you can live off your craft alone. Everyone’s experience level and financial needs are unique; but if a temporary gig could ease some of the pressure, check out our list of survival jobs for actors.
SAG health insurance continuance
If you’re on SAG’s health plan, then a strike won’t end benefits you previously earned; current coverage will continue without interruption as long as you have met the minimum requirements. If you have questions about your current benefits, contact SAG Health Plan Participant Services at 800-777-4013 to discuss your specific eligibility scenario.
For other insurance plans, if you are unable to pay your monthly premium, check with your provider to see if they have a grace period for payment. For example, some public health-care plans offer a 90-day window, and Blue Cross Blue Shield will give you a 25-day window.
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Knowledge is power. Here are some articles you can read to stay informed:
What Are Actors Allowed to Do During the SAG Strike?
SAG’s guidelines prohibit members from participating in most jobs with struck companies. However, you may be permitted to do work covered by other agreements. This is a list of everything that union and nonunion actors are allowed to do during the strike.
Everything You Need to Know About the SAG and AMPTP Negotiations
This isn’t the first time that SAG has gone on strike, and it won’t be the last. Read this discussion of the issues to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what’s on the table for both performers and producers.
How the Strike Will Impact the Industry
A labor dispute on this scale will undoubtedly lead to a sea change in Hollywood, so it’s important that you know what to expect.
You can use this break in the action as an opportunity to develop new skills and refine your existing ones. Here are a few ideas:
- Practice acting at home: Connect to your creativity even when you’re not working.
- Audition exercises: These tools can up your game for when it’s time to go back into the room.
- Build a home studio: Create the soundscape of your dreams for future voiceover endeavors.
- Apply to non-struck jobs: SAG’s strike guidelines allow members to work for certain indie production companies operating under the Interim Agreement. Actors who aren’t in SAG may work for non-struck indie producers without an Interim Agreement. You can find indie casting calls here.
Take this downtime to freshen up your portfolio and other marketing materials.
- Résumé: Now’s a great time to update or revise your current CV.
- Headshots: Revisit that black-and-white photo you’ve been using for years. (Just make sure to read up on how much headshots cost before you decide on a new one.)
- Website: Having a strong online presence is important in almost any profession, but especially for actors. Use your digital space to show off your talents and skills in one place—just be sure to avoid promoting work from struck companies.
- Demo reel: Use the best video editing software for beginners to perfect your compilation of acting clips.