By Gy Mirano
New York Division member
Recently, I read about a seminar that helps actors with work visas navigate the U.S. employment system. There is already a continuous stream of foreign actors arriving to work on production sets from Miami to Manhattan for lower rates and unregulated conditions with non-union contracts. As an advocate for U.S. actors, Screen Actors Guild is paying attention.
Last year SAG began a dialogue with several advertisers who tend to film English-language commercials under a SAG contract while doing the Spanish versions non-union. SAG also reached out to several studios and other entities on behalf of the dubbing community, whose work is being outsourced to our Latin-American counterparts.
In addition to reaching out directly to producers, the Guild hosts several events throughout the year, some in partnership with other organizations, to promote cultural and business integration. For three years SAG has hosted a luncheon for filmmakers at the New York Latino International Film Festival. We have also had the opportunity to work with Revolución Latina, AHAA (Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies), HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors), and the SAG Foundation to strengthen the union presence within our community. These events are a clever organizing tool which will bring positive results.
Using strategies to attract rather than antagonize is good business. The more filmmakers, producers and companies SAG can attract, the more jobs we will have access to. Actors need roles in independent films, but we also need those on-camera and voice-over spots that help make our salary for the year. We want to book guests spots on episodic TV, but we also want the dubbing job when these shows are targeted to the Hispanic market. Our community needs CBS as much as Telemundo, and shows like “Law and Order” as much as “Soy tu Dueña”, a telenovela that got the highest ratings of all television programs last year, and it was the U.S. Latin audience which drove those ratings.
Many work opportunities for Latino actors are here at home, but if these work pools are not organized under union contracts, we will not be able to enjoy our rightfully earned slice of the Hispanic market boom. Now is the time for all Latino actors to unite and help organize our work. Bravo, SAG, for helping us move ahead in the right direction!