Long Term Effects of Being a NonUnion Actor

“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 ambiance 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 period of time leads directly to 2) non-union members becoming disenchanted with the industry and performing at lower standards which is not good for the individual extra, nor for the industry as a whole. I will use the rest of this paper to prove my thesis which will rest upon three foundational points:
In 1995-1996, there were a series of articles that dealt with the issue of union versus non-union pay rates for extras. In one such article, it was stated that a union extra earned $99 a day, or $128 a day for a soap opera job, yet a&nbsp.non-union extra only earned between $30-70 a day for doing the same work (Horwitz 22).