Kailey Krantz-Diaz | Staff Writer
FIU Theatre students are witnessing history in the making. The Screen Actors Guild joined the Writers Guild of America in the fight for better compensation in residuals and regulations of artificial intelligence within the creative process of filmmaking, TV, voice acting and more.
It marks the first time since 1960 that actors and writers are on a double strike, leading theatre students to wonder if they should keep pursuing this career path.
As a theatre kid at heart, I had to dig deeper.
To get a local perspective on the issue, I interviewed Terry Hardcastle, a theatre professor here at FIU, who has performed at Actors’ Playhouse, Gablestage, Maltz-Jupiter Theatre and Palm Beach Dramaworks.
With the rise of artificial intelligence in visual media, including the latest with studios using actors’ likenesses for minor roles and extras, the battle between man and machine is a reality that theatre students will face if they choose to go professional.
“Will studios sidestep some human writers for AI? Yes,” he said. “But, only if those scripts can make the studio money without sacrificing prestige… which I find at this stage highly unlikely.”
He also described the likeliest outcome of “AI being used very sparingly to “fix” a script.”
It’s a statement I agreed with in my earlier article on AI, where I wrote that future writers should not be afraid to use AI in their writing as long as they don’t become overly dependent on the technology.
While human creatives can create a symbiotic relationship with AI, the fear of joining the film and television industry still lingers in many theatre students’ hearts as studios admit that they “pay consistently late and they will still not pay on time, even with increased penalties.”
In regards to being paid consistently in his work, Hardcastle admitted that “when [he] was younger and non-union, [he] was paid little and worked infrequently,” as well as having “no pension or health benefits.”
It highlights the importance of joining a union like SAG-AFTRA, WGA and the Actors’ Equity Association for FIU theatre students to have a safety net in benefits and make their professional careers more stable.
Towards the end of the interview, he advised those young hopefuls willing to pursue a career in acting.
“Engage fully with everything that excites you, and keep abreast of trends in your chosen industry; be it theater, TV, film or whatever,” he said. “Where there’s fear, there’s an opportunity and the ones who get in early on whatever is coming down the pike, will reap the rewards.”
While an actor’s life is never predictable, that shouldn’t dissuade theatre students from pursuing their passions.
Students can further engage with the industry’s future by supporting the efforts of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA by spreading the word through social media and donating to the Entertainment Community Fund.
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