Actors Get Reality Check
Harold Perrineau, Daniel Dae Kim, and Josh Holloway on "Lost." In 2004, African American actors' share of total TV and film roles decreased, while Asian Pacific Islander American and Caucasian actors' shares increased.
Last week, the Screen Actors Guild released some casting stats that bode badly for actors. In 2004, film and TV actors as a group saw 8% of their roles disappear (3,456 roles) versus 2003. Film roles actually grew 4%, but the slight growth was not enough to offset the 10% drop in TV roles brought on by reality shows on primetime, which aired 22 hours per week in 2004, compared with 15 in 2003.
SAG prez Alan Rosenberg said, “Our highest priority must be to create increased work opportunities for Guild members. The statistics this year are again disturbing and the industry must begin to address this downward trend. The Guild is more than doing its part, in particular by championing state tax incentive legislation that should lead producers to create more,
not less, roles for performers. The displacement of scripted series by reality programming continues to be a severe obstacle to a working actor’s ability to earn a living.”
A drill-down of the stats showed that male actors have been continuing to get most of the roles, as have actors under 40. In terms of race trends, the good news is that Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) actors gained a greater number of roles (78) plus a greater share of roles on TV--from 2.5% to 2.9% of episodic TV roles, which is a 21% gain over 2003. The bad news is that every other racial group lost roles. Hardest hit were African American actors, whose share of film and TV roles dropped from 15.3% to 13.8%. It should also be noted that while Caucasian actors lost the largest number of roles (2,127), they had the most roles to lose, so their share of roles, compared with other racial groups, actually increased one whole percentage point to 74.5%.
SAG's Rosenberg expressed that though he was encouraged by the gains made by APIA actors, he is disappointed with overall diversity trends. As such, SAG will continue to improve casting diversity by holding special events and talent showcases, and promoting SAGIndie’s low budget diversity casting incentive.
SAG and other film labor unions have a tough road ahead of them. As production becomes more globalized, it will be easier to get cheap labor (including actors) from places like Romania, India, and China. Not only can producers pay actors in these countries a much lower daily rate than their U.S. counterparts, they don't have to pay them any royalties.
>> TV Performers Again Take Hit From Reality Programming, 2004 Casting Data Shows [SAG, 10/5/05]
RELATED PREVIOUS POSTS:
>> Kudos to "Lost" on Asian American Representation
>> Cultural Insensitivity
>> Romania: Hollywood (Way) East
>> Hey, Whatever's Cheapest