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SAG-AFTRA Strike: 29-Year-Old Background Actor Shares Concerns on AI and Lack of Opportunities

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The Impact of AI on Background Actors: Insights from a 29-Year-Old Actor on the SAG-AFTRA Strike

Esther Cunningham, a 29-year-old actor, is among the participants in the NBC Universal Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) picket line. The strike, which began on July 14, highlights the failure of negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to secure a new TV and film contract. As a background actor, Cunningham is concerned about the potential implications of AI technology on her career.

The Threat of AI and Likeness Scanning

One of the key concerns for background actors like Cunningham is the lobbying by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to scan their likenesses and use those scans throughout a shoot while paying them for just one day of work. SAG-AFTRA aims to establish safeguards, including written consent from background actors before any scanning takes place, to protect their rights and prevent the loss of individuality.

Challenges and Opportunities for Background Actors

For Cunningham and others in the industry, the current situation represents a pivotal moment. Background work not only provides a source of income but also offers invaluable learning opportunities and a network of colleagues. Losing these ongoing background opportunities would have far-reaching effects beyond financial implications.
Exploring Alternative Work and Pursuing Artistic Growth
In light of the strike, Cunningham has sought alternative employment, working as a barista and taking on a part-time office job. Despite these changes, she remains committed to her acting career and actively participates in the strike while working on web series projects and engaging in theater performances. In conclusion, the SAG-AFTRA strike and the concerns raised by background actors like Esther Cunningham shed light on the potential impact of AI technology on the entertainment industry. As negotiations continue, it is crucial to find a balance that ensures fair treatment and protection for background actors while embracing the benefits that emerging technologies can offer. The outcome of this strike will shape the future working conditions for background actors and the industry as a whole.

A Hot Take: Implications for New Businesses

The ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike and concerns raised by background actors like Esther Cunningham about the potential impact of AI technology on their careers could have significant implications for new businesses in the entertainment industry.

Striking a Balance between Innovation and Fair Treatment

New businesses in this sector need to be mindful of the balance between embracing technological advancements like AI and ensuring fair treatment for all involved in their productions. This could mean considering innovative ways to use technology while also prioritizing ethical practices and fair compensation.
Learning from the Current Situation
The current situation offers valuable lessons for new businesses. It underscores the importance of clear communication, negotiation, and consensus-building in addressing contentious issues. It also highlights the need for businesses to be adaptable and responsive to changing circumstances. In conclusion, the SAG-AFTRA strike and the concerns around the use of AI in the entertainment industry offer both challenges and opportunities for new businesses. By understanding these implications and responding proactively, new businesses can navigate these complexities, uphold fair treatment for all, and harness the potential of AI in a responsible and ethical manner.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/19/for-background-actors-the-sag-aftra-strike-is-existential.html
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