Fall 2019

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42 SAG-AFTRA | Fall 2019 | W ith the explosion of new production on a variety of platforms, background actors are in demand, and earnings are up. But, increasingly, some members are concerned about the competition for the number of spots allocated for union background in SAG-AFTRA contracts as well as the lack of contract coverage in emerging production areas such as New Mexico, Louisiana and Georgia. Recently, they have been on the receiving end of an outpouring of support from high-profile members, including Jeff Bridges, Amy Adams, Mandy Moore, Mark Duplass and Rachel Brosnahan. But many of these performers have only spoken out after witnessing or experiencing firsthand some of the poor treatment their colleagues who work background have received on set. For instance, Adams recalled how she was mistaken for her stand-in while shooting HBO's Sharp Objects. "I've never experienced this before but, because we looked so much alike, at one point somebody grabbed me really hard and pulled me," she recently told THR. "I went, 'What's going on?' And they're like, '(Gasp) You're not Reb!' I went into producer [mode] and I was like, 'You will not handle her like that.'" In April, the multihyphenate Duplass tweeted about how appalled he was to see background performers treated badly. "If you see this happening, please gently bring it to the attention of the offender(s) and ask them to reconsider their approach. It's an odd blind spot in our industry," he wrote. New York Local Board member and Background Advisory Committee Chair Avis Boone agrees. "In New York, while shooting exterior scenes in January in out-of-season wardrobe without proper breaks and a place to keep warm between shots, sometimes background actors will ask for hand warmers and be told that they only have enough for the crew or the talent. Even though background actors are a key ingredient to make a scene look real, they are often an afterthought when it comes to the things like being given proper breaks, water and safety rides," she said. Some performers, including Bridges, Moore and Brosnahan, used their time onstage during the last awards season to single out their stand-ins and background colleagues. While accepting the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, Brosnahan saluted "Our too-often unsung background actors who worked the same hours as us and share the same union as us. I couldn't be luckier to be a part of this AMY TIERNEY Rachel Brosnahan spoke out in support of background actors at the SAG Awards in January. Background Actors

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