Long Term Effects of Being a Non-Union Actor

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The purpose of this paper is to show that non-union actors suffer with low self-esteem after working as an extra for a long period due to the significantly lower pay rate they receive as opposed to union actors who work as extras. This paper will give evidence of this through by citing several journal articles and newspaper articles that support this claim.


"Ever since the first Hollywood director yelled, 'Action!' on the set of a motion picture, the anonymous corps of performers known as 'extras' formed an integral element of the film capital's working society" (Cary 38). This powerful opening leads directly to the crux of this paper. Actors who work as walk-ons, diner patrons, soldiers, and the like are called extras. These are the actors that do not have a spoken part in the production; they are there to provide the full ambience of the scene. If the production is to convey a busy street scene, that scene requires a host of extras to make the scene believable therefore, the presence of each and every extra constitutes a completed realistic scene that the viewer finds credible. Yet, many extras are not paid in a manner consistent with their important function within the industry. In fact, if the extra happens to lack union status, that extra's pay is decimated by as much as 50% of what a union member would be paid for the same work. Non-union extras should be paid for the work they perform as handsomely as union workers.
There are two reasons why I postulate this idea: 1) non-union members who do not receive pay on par with their union counterparts fall into a situation of low self-esteem, and if continued over an extended pe ...
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