- The actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, has strict strike rules barring social-media creators from supporting studios.
- As the actors’ strike goes on, some influencers are experiencing financial hardship.
- Jasmine Paige Moore, a TikTok creator, tells Insider about giving up content creation and returning to bartending during the strike.
This first-person as-told-to story is based on an August interview with Jasmine Paige Moore, a TikTok and Instagram content creator with nearly 470,000 followers. She spoke with Insider about her experience declining lucrative brand deals and partnerships as the actors’ strike, which began in July, continues. Moore’s claims were verified by Insider using screenshots of emails and conversations that substantiated her claims.
Within the first few days of the Hollywood actors’ strike, a friend of mine — a fellow TikTok content creator with a large following — faced online backlash. It was about a video he’d made in which he stated that he’d follow SAG-AFTRA’s strike rules for creators like us but hoped to first finish out contracts he’d signed with studios. Many creators who collaborate with Hollywood companies earn money through brand deals, attending and posting about movie premieres, or collaborating with makeup or fashion companies.
However, this particular friend of mine was subjected to painful accusations by outspoken online critics who claimed he intended to continue profiting from his relationships with studios, even as actors walked off the job in protest of issues such as wages, residuals, and artificial intelligence.
This was in July, and it was unclear how we, as creators, were supposed to deal with the sudden change in rules.
One thing was clear: if we broke them, SAG-AFTRA might permanently bar us from joining the guild. People also began to police creators online, with accounts like @ScabsOfTikTok calling out those who were thought to be breaking the rules.
That’s when I noticed it: a critic I didn’t recognize, slamming my friend harder than the others. I decided to confront this individual in the comments section of one of my friend’s posts. “We as content creators should be helping to educate one another, not tearing each other down,” I wrote.
“We? “I am an artist,” she wrote, drawing a line between me and her. She then went on to attack me and my friend, perpetuating the myth that he was abandoning the strikers. The entire experience was unpleasant, to say the least, and reflects a negative stigma that has always existed around influencers, keeping us apart from mainstream Hollywood. Some people who are unfamiliar with what we do believe that being a creator is not a “real job.” But it is our source of income. Creating content is how I pay for my house, groceries, car, and just living.
I’m a film buff who blogs about movies and celebrates everything Hollywood. On TikTok alone, I have approximately 470,000 followers. I started out as a cosplayer, but my passion for film led me to become an unofficial movie commentator.
I’ve been eligible to join SAG-AFTRA for three years but have never been able to afford the dues, preventing me from becoming a full member. The initial dues would be a few thousand dollars. I’m chastising myself for not doing it. I’m hoping to join eventually, which is one of the main reasons I’m sticking to the picket line. (Editor’s note: SAG-AFTRA has informed creators that they will be barred from joining the guild if they are perceived to have crossed the picket line by performing work on behalf of networks, streaming services, and studios — such as promoting newly released films or TV shows — during the strike.)
It’s difficult to be a creator in Hollywood during the strike. We’ve been asked to take part in this fight, which has cost many of us a lot of money and has prompted accusations of being “scabs” — a term I’d never heard before this strike, but which refers to people who actively cross the picket line.
Even though I won’t be directly protected by SAG-AFTRA’s eventual contract and we don’t have a seat at the negotiating table, I’ve put all of my partnerships and brand deals with studios and struck companies on hold.
I’ve turned down over five figures in brand deals, including several gigs in the last few weeks that would have paid me between $7,000 and $15,000. I canceled my trip to San Diego Comic-Con and declined a job promoting Barbie dolls because it was too close to the “Barbie” movie.
Every year, I land a handful, maybe two or three, of larger deals in the $15,000 to $20,000 range, so turning these jobs down is a significant financial sacrifice for me. To make ends meet, I’ve had to return to bartending, which has likely set me back even further in terms of being able to afford union dues in the future.
To make matters worse, there is a harsh rhetoric directed at creators, encouraging us to conform and refrain from speaking out, despite the fact that many of us are appalled by what is being asked of us. “This isn’t about you. Stop detracting from the strike,” critics say online. “Do not make this all about you.”
We can’t even express how much we’ve suffered.
(Editor’s note: A SAG-AFTRA spokesperson stated in a statement that the changes its members are striking for “will benefit everyone in the years to come” and that the guild is “committed to working with [creators] to navigate strike rules as they look for new partnership opportunities during this time.”
“SAG-AFTRA remains committed to a deal, and we call on the AMPTP to return to the negotiating table and end the strike as soon as possible so that our members and those in the content creator space can get back to work,” the statement said.
The implicit message to creators has been that SAG-AFTRA is the gatekeeper to the career we want
I’ve asked my manager to stop sending me new job opportunities indefinitely while I support SAG-AFTRA. I’m organizing gatherings of other creators to go to the picket lines. I did attend the premiere of Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” after the strike began, but I told the film’s publicists that I wouldn’t post about it until the strike was over.
The entire experience has taught me that there is a hierarchy in Hollywood, and that creators are at the bottom. The actors’ guild’s implicit message is: We’re the gatekeepers to the career you want. You will not be able to join us if you do not follow our rules. That door will be shut behind you.
While SAG-AFTRA’s foundation has emergency relief funds for dues-paying members who can prove they’re in a legitimate financial crisis, creators who aren’t members aren’t eligible. I feel undervalued and conflicted as a creator.
There was almost a mob mentality online at the start of the strike, pitting the two sides against each other. Even now, when I speak out in my videos, engage in conversations with other creators, or organize strike meetups, some people tell me to “shut up.” It instills fear, and many creators are concerned that what they say and feel are insignificant.
In the first two weeks of the strike, I experienced severe depression because the thing that brought me joy and motivated me to get out of bed each day was no longer available to me.
I walked into my closet expecting to rely heavily on cosplaying — a community I’ve grown to love and have spent thousands of dollars on materials for. Then I realized I couldn’t do it because cosplay rules are also stringent.
Some cosplayers I know have received a lot of backlash for dressing up as characters from comic books or books during the strike.
I shut the closet door and haven’t created any cosplay content since.
Some creators are wondering how long this will last, and their confidence is being tested
“Pivoting” is the buzzword among creators right now. We do it with a grudging smile on our faces.
We are the victims of this. Some creators I know have said they will probably never make content again, either because they have been attacked by scab hunters — witch hunters — or because they have lost the thing that brought them joy. It’s unfortunate that, regardless of what we creators say, I know there are those out there who will post negative content to gain attention.
I’m concerned about the future. Who knows what the world of content creation and influence will look like after the strike is over? What if studios like Warner Bros. see that I posted about picketing outside their studios and refuse to give me another brand deal?
Murmurs about how long they’ll hold the line are circulating in some of my group chats with fellow creators. I wouldn’t say resolve is completely shattered. I’m not sure if creators have gained confidence yet, but these discussions have begun because they have been hurt. Some people are wondering how long they will expect us to do the things we enjoy.
I, for one, do not see myself breaking. I’ll move on to other topics and have created a series of videos about the strike. I don’t have as much time to create new videos now that I’m back to bartending.
The bottom line is that SAG-AFTRA membership does not bind me, so this is a decision I’m making for myself — I’m the one tying my own hands. I’m tying my hands for the bigger future that I hope to build one day.
And, above all, this experience has demonstrated to me that the content creator community has lacked a voice during the strike. So, if I want to make a difference and support this community, I only have one option: join the guild. In this new world, we are underrepresented. This moment exemplifies why creators need representation at the table now and in the future.