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#PayUpHollywood Attempting To Change Pay And Working Conditions For Entertainment Industry Assistants
"Assistance in the entertainment industry are overworked underpaid and and often have to run personal errands for their bosses even after they leave for the day. That's according to a new survey of more than fifteen hundred assistance. It was released this this week by the grassroots movement called pay up Hollywood. The campaign started as a twitter Hashtag back in October and has been gaining momentum since then Katie kilkenny is an associate editor at the Hollywood reporter where she covers labor and she explains how the Hashtag grew out of an episode of script notes. A podcast asked about screenwriting. A assistant wrote in saying you know I think one of the big issues. That's going to be coming forward in the next few decades in Hollywood is that we're gonna I have to talk about the low pay. That assistance are facing in how that is related to rising cost of living in Los Angeles and from near the hosts which cacus Craig Mason. Who are both really powerful writers in Hollywood? Read that note and ask for more people to talk about their stories of being an assistant in Los Angeles they just got an overwhelming matic. Email and a writer named Alber who is on the board at the Writers Guild of America started Hashtag called Hashtag Champ. Hollywood so a couple of days before Thanksgiving script notes facilitated a pay up Hollywood town hall where assistance had a chance to talk about some of the issues. And here's what one woman who didn't provide. Her name had to say about burnout. We almost have like three jobs at once. Like not only. Are we working our day. The job for forty to sixty hours a week and not making enough and then therefore doing work on the side like babysitting driving etc but we also have the work of our own careers. I and I think that is what leads that burnout. Because we're not only expected to have this day job that puts all these things in place for us to move forward and then on top of that we're expected to have like an hour to write a day or or to fund their own short films and make them on the weekends like that is just like impossible. I think impossible's inaccurate word word for what she's describing. What some of the other issues that came up around the Hashtag and around the town hall so I think a big one is the question of access? Hollywood has been talking talking a lot about its diversity issues wanting to get more folks into the pipeline of diverse backgrounds. But what we're looking at. Here's the situation where you have to to be able to afford to be an assistant in the first place to get that first leg up in the industry and so Paige Hollywood has just released a survey of one thousand thousand five hundred fifty one assistance and they found that seventy percent of the people who were surveyed were white and that fifty two percent were receiving financial -sential aid from family and friends to make ends meet as they were assistance in Hollywood. So I think we're seeing that this industry in order to diversify does have to become more accessible or economically manically accessible to folks who aren't coming in with with that aid so that to me was notable as well as the fact that a lot of assistance were also talking thing about this sort of demeaning conditions that were expected of them. Hollywood has pay your dues culture and I think a lot of folks remember at its in difficult conditions when they or assistance and so sort of expect. There is a lot to go through that as well. But in the survey it showed that one hundred and four respondents had an object thrown at them in the workplace. So I think that we're looking at conditions assistance or not only being pretty badly paid but also they are facing conditions that are pretty rough. We're talking with Katie kilkenny at the Hollywood reporter about pay up. Hollywood there are other things that really jumped out to me. One is that almost ninety three percent of those. The people surveyed said they work more than forty hours a week and fifteen percent said they were working more than sixty hours a week and hero's something that was really troubling. Almost almost a quarter said that they had reported an increase in substance abuse. So it sounds like the job is really taking a terrible terrible toll on the people who are in this line of work completely. I mean I think these numbers sort of show something that assistance have been talking to each other about for a long time and so I think for a lot of this is not a surprise but this survey really shines a light on some of these issues and the fact that things need to change and it sounds like some show runners are actually saying this is unsustainable and maybe even immoral absolutely so I talked to a few folks. We'd been vocal on twitter with their support and basically found out talking to them that they were advocating for higher wages on projects that they're currently developing and these are Adam conifer who Folks might know true. TV's Adam Ruins everything. David H Steinberg. who was a CO show runner? Netflix is no good nick. And the writer producer producer Creator Ayelet Waldman who was an executive producer on Netflix. Unbelievable Waldman in particular told me that she was trying to get her assistance twenty dollars an hour plus benefits and hover was saying that he was trying to just various aspects of the job to make it more. Tenable you said in your story Lori that you had reached out to the major studios and talent agencies for comment and let's just say they weren't flooding the phone lines calling back. have any of them. Had anything anything to say. One Agency is doing something and they didn't provide comment for the story. But you know I heard via sources that for which is the talent agency that represents spoke John August who helped movement as well as Liz Alpert who coined. The HASHTAG has conducted in anonymous pace survey of their assistance. And and I will also be receiving and looking at the results of the pay up Hollywood survey and I imagine that in weeks to come others will speak up more but for now they our remaining mum and even if the hours are horrible. The working conditions aren't great. A lot of people want these jobs right because it's so hard hard to get into the business and this is one possible path for people who want to become creative people in Hollywood definitely. They're extremely competitive jobs and often a line that is used with assistance to speak up about work. Conditions is that you know there were thousands. That will take place but it's gotten to the point where the wages are the same as they were twenty years ago in some cases That's what we're hearing from. These stories while the cost of living in Los Angeles has skyrocketed. And so these assistance missiles argument is that the situation is untenable at the slain. Katie Kilkenny is an associate editor at the Hollywood reporter. Katie thanks so much for coming on the show as much for having me