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SAG Touts Job Increases

Screen Actors Guild members saw a 6% to 7% increase in total number of television and theatrical roles in 2000, according to data released this week by the guild. SAG stressed that performers of color witnessed record high levels of employment, while women and seniors remain "underrepresented."

The data, released this week, come from the guild's annual casting data report. The information does not include daytime television, game or reality shows, animated programs, or most non-primetime programming.

Also, the data come to SAG from individual production companies rather than a single organization, so the individual reports aren't always complete. As a result, SAG has provided two separate totals for the roles its members garnered in 2000. One category, roles for men and women, totaled 53,134. SAG also listed an all-inclusive category for Caucasian and ethnic performers, which added up to 52,759. The difference between the two categories comes to 375 roles, a discrepancy of only one percentage point (6% to 7%) when compared to 49,662, the total number of roles SAG members received in 1999.

Ethnicity Stressed

Caucasian actors still received the vast majority of roles in 2000, bringing in 76.1% of the jobs. However, that percentage is the lowest attained by white actors in the last six years, falling from 1999's 77.6%.

Meanwhile, African-American actors saw roles rise from 14.1% to 14.8%; Latino-Hispanic performers' jobs rose from 4.4% to 4.9%; and Asian-Pacific artists from 2.2% to 2.6%. Native American Indian actors' roles rose from 0.2% to 0.3%.

Overall, performers of color got 22.9% of roles--a total of 11,930 jobs--up from 21.2%.

Here's a breakdown into hard numbers on SAG actors' jobs for 2000:

Total roles: Caucasian 40,136; African American 7,801; Latino-Hispanic 2,608; Asian-Pacific 1,375; unknown-other 693; N. American Indian 146.

Lead roles: Total 20,342; Caucasian 15,737; African American 3,086; Latino-Hispanic 950; Asian-Pacific 348; unknown-other 204; N. American Indian 17.

Supporting roles: Total 32,417; Caucasian 24,399; African American 4,715; Latino-Hispanic 1,658; Asian-Pacific 1,027; unknown-other 489; N. American Indian 129.

"We're moving slowly but steadily toward the reality of portraying the American scene," William Daniels, SAG's national president, said in response to the casting report. "We are delighted to see gains for all ethnicities on the large and small screen, but there's no question there's still plenty of room for growth in diversity in the television and film world."

SAG's report noted that, while Latino-Hispanic actors attained their highest number of casting assignments in 2000, the 4.9% figure remains far below the 11.4% of the U.S. population made up of Latino-Hispanic citizens. Government, business, and labor customarily base their efforts at equal employment on matching each ethnicity's percentage of the overall population. That means, if 11% of the nation is Hispanic, 11% of acting jobs should go to that ethnic group.

With that in mind, SAG also expressed concern that Asian-Pacific Islanders reached their highest percentage of roles with 2.6%, but lag behind the country's 4.0% of Asian-Pacific citizens.

Looking at Gender, Age

SAG also stressed that, although women make up the majority of Americans, men received 62% of the roles cast in 2000, a consistent trend in casting throughout the years. Men also captured almost twice the number of roles and worked more than twice as many days as women.

Artists under the age of 40 still receive favored treatment in the entertainment industry, the union noted. More than twice the roles cast went to actors 40 years old or younger, although Americans 40 and over comprise 42% of the population.

Just as male performers land more jobs than women, older actors find more employment than older actresses, SAG reported. Women over 40 were cast in only 26.2% of women's roles, while those under 40 landed 72.3% of the casting assignments. Furthermore, over-40 women captured only 20% of leading women's roles.

To better the careers and lives of its minority members, SAG noted it has taken several actions over the past few years. They include publishing talent directories promoting employment access for the different ethnic acting sectors, as well as performers with disabilities and stunt performers of color; preparing separate reports on the state of African-American, Latino, senior, and disabled actors within the industry; and hosting a number of industry roundtables on ethnicity.

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