How to Help Beauty Pros During the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes
Image Source: Getty/Patricia Marroquin
The Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) and merged Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) unions are on a dual strike for the first time since 1960. Amongst other demands, the unions are calling for fair pay and the appropriate securities needed to help cope with the rise of artificial intelligence in the industry. While there is a rightful spotlight on writers and actors, one forgotten group also deserves our attention: the hair and makeup artists that work these sets.
Though the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild is part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, and technically not on strike, this group has still been deeply affected by the current industry happenings. “The reality is that many of the studios, in anticipation of a strike(s) and fearing mid-production shutdowns, did not green-light projects months before the writer’s strike even began,” makeup artist Linda Dowds tells POPSUGAR. “Consequently, many in the industry have been out of work for much more than the current 11 weeks of the strike – some are facing six or more months of unemployment already.”
Makeup artist Matin Maulawizada agrees. “For those of us who dabble between fashion, advertising, and celebrities, we had a lot of our jobs canceled if it was related to promoting a movie or a show on talk shows,” he says. “Additionally, since the SAG/AFTRA strike, any junkets or premieres that we would do with actors have come to a complete halt.”
There are quite a few steps that go into green-lighting a show, meaning that even if the strike were to end tomorrow, there is still a long way to go before these hair and makeup artists can get back to work. “Productions need on average two to three months of pre-production before day one of shooting,” Dowds says. “Since makeup and hair are often not brought in until much closer to shoot start, many could anticipate another two months of unemployment from the end date of the strike, on top of what they have already endured – and that is if you already had a job lined up.”
As the strikes continue, you may be wondering how you can help the beauty community in film and TV. Thankfully, both Dowds and Maulawizada have some practical tips to share.
Amplify Their Voices
For many of those on strike, it’s a catch-22: far too many cannot afford to but at the same time, can’t afford not to. Hundreds of people will not see a paycheck for months.
“It is really important to also shine a spotlight on the faces and voices of all the ‘below the line’ artists and craftspeople who far too often remain faceless and voiceless,” Dowds says. “Feature some of these people in your stories. Highlight some of the very real and life-impacting issues they are facing, while at the same time celebrating their contribution to the beauty industry. This can look like inviting them to do tutorials and or guest columns with some kind of financial compensation – and if it cannot be a financial commitment, just remind people of their worth and value.”
Allow Room For Creativity
In the age of influencers, a film and TV beauty professional’s opinion is still worth its weight in gold. “For brands, paid posts without scripted material would be an amazing way help to generate income for film artists that have brought them visibility and have been using their products on set repeatedly,” Maulawizada says. “An expert’s true and honest opinion and repeated mentions of a brand in their kit is an incredibly powerful testimony that shouldn’t be overlooked.”
Shop at Beauty Supply Houses
Beauty professionals aren’t just the hair and makeup artists that bring these shows to life, but also the people that sell them their supplies.
“Many of the support industries are also being greatly impacted, including all the supply houses like Nigel’s Beauty Emporium, Frends, and Alcone, to name a few,” Dowds says. “Their livelihood is not wholly dependent on the film and television industry, but the loss of production work is nonetheless debilitating for them as well.”
Offer a Kit Refresh
With months likely to go by before the end of the strike, some items in a film hair and makeup artist’s kit may expire and they are often very expensive to replace.
“As we start to come out of this, finances are going to be tighter for everyone, and our budgets for hair and beauty products will be lessened,” Dowds says. “Reaching out to the beauty teams working on these shows once they get up and running to offer some promotional kits, products, or anything of that nature, would be greatly appreciated. Similarly, for those who don’t have a show right away, any kind of product offerings might help them to freshen and re-build their kits.”
On the more practical front, money will always be helpful for strikers as they continue to rally for change. The Entertainment Community Fund provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan, and you can make a tax-deductible donation that will go to services like help with housing, financial assistance, and more.
Though uncertainty is hard to navigate, film workers deserve job stability and appropriate pay. So, as the strikes continue, consider some of these tangible steps that you can take to make a difference in their lives while they work on getting their demands met.