In Hollywood, the show will not go on until the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). What began as a WGA strike for an increase in overall pay, higher streaming residuals, and artificial intelligence usage restrictions has resulted in a near industry-wide shutdown. The historic dual strike took writers and actors from the red carpet to the picket lines and across industry boundaries to the digital influencer sphere. As an influencer, here’s what you need to know about the recent SAG-AFTRA Strike Notice.
Influencers in the Union
Influencers crossed paths with SAG-AFTRA in 2021 when the union developed an agreement to protect them as advertisers in the entertainment industry. Like actors, influencers are considered gig workers, which means they may lack basic rights during production, as the work they do is largely unregulated. In response, SAG-AFTRA introduced the Influencer Agreement to protect Creators of all sizes on every platform who promote content for studios. By covering their work under a union contract, SAG-AFTRA protects talent when partnering with Brands in the entertainment industry. It also serves to pave the way for influencers to become SAG-AFTRA members at a later point.
How the Strike Is Impacting Creators
Because influencer marketing has become integral to modern-day advertising, Creators have infiltrated every industry, including entertainment. Now that actors have ceased all promotion of AMPTP films and shows, studios have grown desperate to get the word out about upcoming releases that are still in motion. Although influencers have always been on their radar, they have shot heavily into focus in light of the strikes, with studios imploring them to promote struck work. SAG-AFTRA, however, has taken a strong stance against influencers promoting struck work as it undercuts their negotiating power.
Should Creators Cross Picket Lines?
SAG-AFTRA has released a strike order to union influencers and a clear message to non-union influencers who seek to join SAG-AFTRA someday: influencers who choose to cross the picket line will be barred from entering the union in the future. That said, the conditions are not that black and white. SAG-AFTRA is allowing the promotion of work that’s been under contract before the strike, adding, “If an influencer is already under contract to promote struck work, then the influencer should fulfill their work obligation.” (See below for the list of suggested influencer protocol during the strike).
Many influencers who are already part of SAG-AFTRA have advocated support for the cause by striking alongside actors and refusing lucrative Brand deals from the studios. Other influencers are unfamiliar with SAG-AFTRA and confused by its recent demands. A few influencers have expressed disdain over SAG-AFTRA’s statements. One who has chosen to remain anonymous had the following to share, “It’s ironic that influencers are being asked to participate in the strike, even though we were never included in the union from the start. They didn’t want us before, but now they want us to stand with them, in solidarity.”
If an influencer has no desire to abide by SAG-AFTRA’s orders, it is their prerogative. However, those who wish to extend their career into the field of entertainment must be mindful of their choices during this time. Influencers like Makayla Lysiak have shown their support by striking alongside actors and others like Courtney Quinn have had to rework planned content that clashes with SAG-AFTRA’s strike orders.
@makaylalysiak Come w/ me to the Actors Strike at Netflix! 🎥🪧 @SAG-AFTRA #strike #acting #actorslife #netflix #actorslife #wga #sagaftra #actortok #wgaatrike #sagaftrastrike #netflixstrike #hollywood #lavlog #filmindustry ♬ original sound – Makayla Lysiak
@colormecourtney👋🏾 Pick my brithday dress please ❤️🥰✨♬ Cute Girl – EXJUNE
Small Creator Ellen Forest turned down a $5,000 offer from studios, choosing to honor the cause and pursue her dreams of one day joining the union as an actor. However, other Creators were less influenced by the union and vocalized their opinion publicly. One such Creator was Straw Hat Goofy who was forced to issue an apology video after his thoughts on the strike came under heat.
@f0r3st.witch Dont scab 🥰🖤 #screenactorsguild #writersguildofamerica #writersstrike #actorsstrike #writersstrike2023 #writersstrikefyp #striketok #supportwriters #workersrightsarehumanrights ♬ Mean (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift
@cr15t14n_g11 Reuploading since TikTok took his down. #strawhatgoofyskit #strawhatgoofy #writersstrike #actorsstrike #sagstrike ♬ original sound – Cristian G.
SAG-AFTRA Influencer Dos and Don’ts
Influencers who are members of SAG-AFTRA must abide by the following rules while the strike is ongoing. Non-members who go against these recommendations will be denied entry in the future. For those who have no interest in joining SAG-AFTRA, proceed as usual.
- Promote struck work only if you’re already under contract to do so.
- Continue to post your regularly scheduled content as long as it does not include the promotion of struck work in any capacity.
- Attend conventions like Comic-Con so long as you do not promote struck work.
- Share reaction videos and reviews as an entertainment journalist.
- Accept new collaborations that promote struck work.
- Promote struck work through cosplay.
- Accept invitations to red-carpet events that entail the promotion of struck work.
- Post about struck work on social media even as a fan.
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SAG-AFTRA Resources for Influencers
If you’re an influencer who is part of SAG-AFTRA or would like to join, here are some quick links to help guide you during the strike. If you have any questions or need more information, contact [email protected].
The Intersection of Social and Traditional Media
While influencers may not be in the same category as traditional celebrities, the lines are slowly blurring with actors crossing over to social media and social media stars leaving the small screen for the big screen. Actors from various backgrounds have taken to social media to rally support for their cause and clarify any confusion around their decision to halt work.
@sagaftra 🪧 #AubreyPlaza: “There’s all kinds of **** going on.” Thank you, Aubrey for your #SAGAFTRAstrong support ✊ #SAGAFTRAstrike #striketok ♬ original sound – SAG-AFTRA
@adamconoverBob Iger is completely out of touch if he thinks the writers and actors are the ones being unrealistic here.♬ original sound – Adam Conover
@apnews “The Office” actor David Denman gives a clear explanation on residuals and how they’ve been impacted by streaming giants such as Netflix. Residuals are compensation that creators and actors get from continued use of their material that go beyond the original airing. #theoffice #daviddenman #actorsstrike #hollywood #netflix ♬ original sound – The Associated Press
With television and feature films at a standstill, the content calendars of major studios have run dry. Because the WGA strike has halted scripted television, studios will start to turn to non-narrative shows as they did during the 2007-2008 strike. The last writers’ strike was so influential that it changed the landscape of television, popularizing reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and The Real Housewives franchise. In 2023, however, the real stars of the screen are on your phone.
Because non-scripted television remains unaffected by the strike, we could see a rise in influencer-dominated content. For many content Creators, the switch from mobile to TV had begun well before the strike, with streaming programs like The Hype House, The D’Amelio Show, and Sneakin In With Druski available to stream. With content gaps to fill, we anticipate more shows starring social media stars to be greenlit in the future.
Spotlighting the Creator Economy
Influencers have pioneered new ways of bringing Brands to consumers, collectively generating a new industry and the Creator Economy. Because social media has become so integrated into our lives, it’s hard to look away. For Gen Z and many millennials, it is their main source of entertainment. For Brands, it is a means of direct connection to these consumers. While social media may not be replacing traditional media, it certainly has a very strong hold on our attention. Its allure is so potent among younger demographics that TikTok has dethroned Netflix as the second most popular app for people under the age of 35.
Securing Non-Union Deals
Whether or not the interests of influencers extend to the entertainment industry, they must still monetize their craft consistently to maintain their position as full-time content Creators. While it can be daunting to navigate this ever-changing landscape, Creators can have one steadfast tool on their team on their phone: Glewee. Through Glewee, Creators gain access to a consistent stream of Brand deals and campaigns across every industry. Glewee’s all-in-one platform enables Creators to set their rates, build a portfolio, and connect with Brands in real time. If you’re a Creator looking to monetize your content, start by downloading Glewee today.