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Been working hard on something that means a lot to me, so a thread is incoming!
Some Hollywood TV studios came after the pay of lowest-level assistants & support staff after the pandemic hit. For @vanityfair, I talked to 20+ industry people abt what happened, 1 studio changing course & why this affects marginalized folks most severely vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020…
Many assistants I spoke to said their income fell by a third to a *half*. And these folks were already not making much. And contrary to what some above them might think, for support staff, working remotely *not* easier/faster +
At 1 studio, 15 showrunners got together & embarked on a course of action that ended up being successful: Details of that are in the story. But they fought back for their asst/support staff & it appears to have worked.
For this next part, I’m going to quote from the story, which I hope you read in its entirety. +
“Cuts to assistants’ pay rankled employees who used to work w Andrew Kreisberg, a former EP on CW superhero shows. In Nov 2017, I reported on his history of alleged misconduct & inappropriate behavior. variety.com/2017/tv/news/w…
Kriesberg has denied all allegations of misconduct.” +
“In the wake of an investigation at WBTV, Kreisberg was fired. I have now learned from multiple sources that Kreisberg, who was a cocreator on superhero shows in CW Arrowverse shows, was paid nearly $10 million by Warner Bros. after he was let go in 2017” vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020…
A source: "Some people might say it’s apples & oranges—cutting the pay of assts vs what the studio paid Kreisberg,” said an Arrowverse vet. “But it reinforces the fact that those at the top of the food chain are protected, while the people who are most vulnerable have no options"
Lots of reasons I did this story. One of them: Where studios & other Hollywood entities spend their money matters. It tells you what their priorities are. Whatever they say *can* matter, but who they boost, enable, support and write checks to ... it sends a message. Also +
Big reason I did the story because being an assistant/support staff in Hollywood=>a major way people get a foothold in the entertainment industry. In the words of an assistant: “If you give a shit about Black voices, you have to invest in them at the start of their careers.” +
These folks do not make much money. LA has gotten wayy more expensive over the years, and as #PayUpHollywood has documented, salaries are stuck in the past & have not kept up with cost of living there & in NY. +
Hope you read & RT these next parts. Expanding on what's in the story, Assistant jobs are a major on-ramp into the ent industry. But think about the multiple, sizable barriers that ALREADY EXIST for those from marginalized communities. I’ll list just a few of those obstacles +
So those barriers in Hollywood: For entry level jobs, many industry employers prefer resumes with Ivy League degrees, private college degrees, “name college” degrees, aka degrees that incur a TON of debt if you’re not well to do. Is this universal? Nah. But it's A Thing. +
Thus those who enter the industry without college debt? They're already way ahead of the game. White? Straight? Cis? Male? Abled? Many bosses are share all or most most of these attributes, and so cultural & social backgrounds will be in favor of assts who share those attributes
Let’s say that you are a person from a marginalized community/communities & you still got the assistant/support staff job. (congrats/sorry!) Now, how do you live? These folks are less likely to have family money & support systems that can float them with housing, $$, car, etc.
Let’s say, despite all that, you still hang in there. You work the 10-12 hours a day the job requires. You work weekends. The likelihood of you putting up with at least some (or a lot of)… privileged nonsense behavior is not small. +
Likelihood of you putting up with comments, actions & patterns you find offensive, uninformed and/or hurtful… not small. Can you speak up? Eeek, even thinking about it is scary. The chances you’ll be around a lot of people who want a cookie just for hiring you… not small. +
But you hang in through all of it. I truly don't know how you do it, but you stick it out. Then the studio, in the trash fire year of 2020, during a pandemic, in overt & covert ways, makes you feel afraid to report the hours you were promised you could report--& that you do work
You get word that you can’t clock overtime at all. Or it's discouraged. OT is paid at higher rates (it depends but at various points, time & half or double time kick in). So OT thing will slice *hard* into your paycheck. +
If you are from a marginalized community/communities, if you are already weary not just from the job but also the many other hurdles placed in your way on the daily, what are the odds that you just say, “I’m OUT.” +
And of course, everything I've said applies to those who aren't from marginalized communities as well! But if you have these other stressors/hurdles, and then the bottom drops out financially & the industry you work in was already precarious... it's a lot. +
At that point, maybe you go do something that does not make you more broke, something that does not make you feel undervalued & unseen. Maybe you go do something where both your financial and maybe even your mental health aren’t walking a fine line every day. +
Do I believe some Hollywood execs want work forces & creator slates that look like America? Sure. But if they say they want that & don't take action to fix the assistant/support staff pipeline & make it a REAL, working pathway for marginalized folks, then ... do they mean it?
People gotta have this conversation: Hollywood execs who say they want inclusive work forces also are likely to incentivize some that work for them to ruthlessly cut costs. Seems to me their own direct reports are placing sticks of dynamite on the assistant pipeline regularly. +
My editorializing, fwiw: If powerful execs in TV/film do not have talks with business affairs people & others — who are usually just doing what they’re told regarding $$$$— the talent pipeline will keep shedding BIPOC, LGBTQ folks, folks from other marginalized communities. +
Execs are putting out statements about how much they value Black lives. I'll take them at their word. The access & compensation in entry-level jobs for Black folks is not a magic fix for Hollywood. A lot more must be done. But it’d give concrete meaning to those press releases.
I do think some who have climbed the industry ladder get it. They see this. Or they're starting to. Hence the 15 WBTV showrunners who said “Uuhh, that's a Nope” and were prepared to back that NOPE with serious action. /fin

[thank u for listening, here's kyle chandler dancing]
For the evening crowd, check out my timeline today, if you care to. Re this thread & the new @VanityFair piece within it, I got & retweeted a lot of illuminating feedback from people at all levels of the entertainment industry. All this can change. If there’s the will to do it.
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