Amid the ongoing strikes that have brought Hollywood to a halt, Billy Porter is opening up about the financial toll of the work stoppages.
During a recent interview with the Evening Standard, the Pose star admitted that he has had to make some cutbacks after some of his upcoming projects were put on pause when writers and actors took to the picket lines.
“I have to sell my house,” he told the outlet. “Because we’re on strike. And I don’t know when we’re gonna go back [to work]. The life of an artist, until you make fuck-you money — which I haven’t made yet — is still check-to-check. I was supposed to be in a new movie, and on a new television show starting in September. None of that is happening.”
The actor also referenced a report from Deadline last month that quoted an anonymous studio executive, who said studios won’t return to the table with the Writers Guild until “union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
His response to that Hollywood executive: “To the person who said, ‘We’re going to starve them out until they have to sell their apartments,’ you’ve already starved me out.”
Porter highlighted how the industry has changed, especially with the addition of streaming, compared to how it was decades ago.
“In the late Fifties, early Sixties, when they structured a way for artists to be compensated properly through residual [payments], it allowed for the two percent of working actors — and there are 150,000 people in our union — who work consistently,” he said. “Then streaming came in. There’s no contract for it… And they don’t have to be transparent with the numbers — it’s not Nielsen ratings anymore. The streaming companies are notoriously opaque with their viewership figures. The business has evolved. So the contract has to evolve and change, period.”
The Our Son actor also had some choice words for Disney head Bob Iger, who has faced a wave of criticism following an interview with CNBC last month, where he said the strikes are “very disturbing” and will have a “very, very damaging effect on the whole business.”
“This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption,” Iger said at the time, adding that he respects “their right and their desire” to be compensated fairly, but also that the unions “have to be realistic about the business environment and what this business can deliver” and that the strikes will cause “huge collateral damage.”
In response, Porter said, “To hear Bob Iger say that our demands for a living wage are unrealistic? … I don’t have any words for it, but: fuck you. That’s not useful, so I’ve kept my mouth shut. I haven’t engaged because I’m so enraged. I’m glad I’ve been over here [London]. But when I go back, I will join the picket lines.”