US actors union Sag-Aftra has officially ratified its contract with Hollywood studios, bringing an end to the strike that has been ongoing since July 14. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) reported that an overwhelming 78% of its members voted in favor of the new multi-year contract.
Actors involved in the strike are celebrating a major victory, as they have secured $1 billion in new compensation and benefits, along with much-needed protections against the studios’ use of artificial intelligence (AI). Under the terms of the agreement, actors will receive an immediate 11% pay increase, and those who work on successful streaming series and films will be rewarded with a $40 million residual bonus.
Perhaps one of the most significant wins for actors is the inclusion of AI-related protections. Going forward, studios will be required to obtain “informed consent and fair compensation” for any living or deceased performer whose likeness is used with AI technology. This provision aims to prevent actors from being exploited or having their performances manipulated without consent.
The contract also includes important changes in terms of diversity and inclusion. New make-up and hairstyling requirements have been introduced, ensuring that experts are available to cater to performers with diverse hair textures and skin types. This move is seen as a step towards addressing the industry’s historic lack of representation and opportunities for actors from marginalized communities.
In an effort to establish a safer and more respectful work environment, the contract introduces the requirement to hire intimacy coordinators on set for scenes involving sex and nudity. This move comes as part of ongoing efforts to address issues of consent and misconduct in the industry.
The strike, which lasted a grueling 118 days, is now officially the longest in the 90-year history of the union. The combination of the actors’ strike and the concurrent writers’ strike is estimated to have cost the California economy a staggering $6.5 billion.
As the strike concludes and actors return to work, the industry is hopeful for a period of stability and renewed growth. The contract’s provisions serve as a testament to the power of collective bargaining and the determination of actors to secure fair treatment and recognition for their contributions to the entertainment world.
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