SUPERNATURAL Vets Sebastian Roché, Ruth Connell, and Rob Benedict on the Ongoing Strikes: 'It's a Fight That We Are Going to Win' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

SUPERNATURAL Vets Sebastian Roché, Ruth Connell, and Rob Benedict on the Ongoing Strikes: ‘It’s a Fight That We Are Going to Win’

August 11, 2023 by  

Supernatural Strike

Sebastian Roché, David H. Goodman, Ruth Connell, and Rob Benedict on the picket line at WB. (Photo credits: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

Sebastian Roché has been in over 100 films and television shows in his career, appearing in bigger arcs (THE ORIGINALS and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, FRINGE, SUPERNATURAL) and one-off guest spots (MAGNUM P.I., LAW & ORDER: SVU, BONES, ONCE UPON A TIME). And despite being a recognizable face to many primetime and daytime (GENERAL HOSPITAL) viewers, the actor has a very important message about the realities of the industry.

“First and foremost I want to change the misconception that every actor is a multimillionaire,” he tells Give Me My Remote in the video below. “It is not true…The majority of actors who are members of SAG-AFTRA are journeyman actors, are actors who work a lot—I, myself, work a lot. We are actually working paycheck to paycheck. There are actors who are series regulars or, you know, huge movie stars or TV stars. And they do make millions. But the majority of our union is not that. It’s the journeyman actor. The blue-collar worker actor who works from paycheck to paycheck.”

“There are many people who seem to say, ‘You’re striking, but you’re multimillionaires,’” he continues. “It’s not true. It is not true at all. And we do not work all the time. We all work sporadically. We are the people who are the most out of work. We’re very used to being out of work—until we get employed.”

Roché participated in the “Picket on my Wayward Son”—a reunion for the cast and writers of SUPERNATURAL and THE WINCHESTERS—at Warner Bros. on Thursday, August 10. He was joined by Ruth Connell and Rob Benedict…a trio that has been regularly picketing to support the WGA, even before SAG-AFTRA officially went on strike. 

“I started striking with the writers before the actors went on strike,” Connell says. “I think what’s on the table right now is really, really important for the long-term future. Not only residuals, but AI. And just generally just trying to hold some ground. I think it’s across all industries right now. It’s not easy, but it’s worthwhile to make a stand right now.”

“I’ve been out a lot just in general…because the strike is so important for the working-class actor, which is what I am,” Benedict adds. “And it does affect me personally. And I think it’s really key, these issues that we’re striking against, so that we can move forward and work again. And work comfortably, and feel protected with the changing technology.”

With AI, “we missed a beat with the new media contract a while ago,” Connell says. “I know I feel it with not getting residuals for massive video games that I’ve voiced…the fact the producers are holding out so long tells you how important that is. I don’t know how they’re going to agree amongst themselves; there are so many different kinds of producers within the AMPTP. So that’s going to be interesting to see.”

Though producers have routinely been artificially replicating larger crowds in films and shows—and during the start of the COVID pandemic, it was utilized to minimize the risk/crowd sizes—there’s concern about companies owning an actor’s likeness and it being monetized in ways they didn’t consent to. “You are a copyrighted entity, and you should be paid accordingly if they’re going to use your image over and over,” Roché says. “And the same thing might apply to actors: in the future, they will be able to—if they’re not able to already—use an actor’s image without your permission and use it in perpetuity…[it will be a situation where] you can choose a movie of your liking, an actor of your liking, and use them [together however you choose], and that is unacceptable. We need to be paid if that is going to be the case.”

With AI potentially impacting every corner of the job sector, the actors and writers have found themselves on the frontline of this fight. “We’re here to fight with our brothers and sisters,” Roché says. “It’s a worthy fight, and it’s a fight that we are going to win.”

Adds Benedict: “There’s a lot of unknown, and the technology is developing so fast…we just want to be sort of protected against that.”

There’s also the continued issue of streaming pay and residuals. “The world of streaming is a world that’s really kind of the Wild West; we never got anything locked down in terms of what the pay structure should look like, again, for the working-class actor,” Benedict says. “And because seasons have gone from the 22-episode season like [is the norm on network TV] down to 7, 8, 9 episodes and that’s your season for an entire year, you need to work out a structure that makes sense for the working-class actor to live their life…getting the residuals and the rates set on streaming is super important.”

“You could be on the number one show in the world and be paid peanuts,” Roché adds. “So these things have to change, because it is, at the end of the day, not only the writers…[who] are the people who are creating this content for the studios, but the actors. There always seems to be from the powers that be the consensus that actors are people who can be disposed of. Actors are actually highly educated people. A lot of them go to drama school, a lot of them study for four years, five years, all their lives to be an actor. And they are people who are highly adaptable, highly educated. And our face is there on your screen, and we should be compensated fairly for our creative input.”

“What we’re asking is not even to completely keep up with inflation; it’s not realistic that things continue the way they are,” Connell points out.

The trio also encourage their fans to continue to make noise on social media about the strike. “Post your support,” Benedict says. “Explain to your friends what it’s about. It’s not about snobby rich actors wanting more money. It’s really not. It’s about the working-class actor wanting health insurance, which is a real thing for 85% of the union that can’t afford health insurance. So yeah, tweet about it, spread the knowledge. We’re not asking you to boycott your favorite shows. We’re just asking you to support us because pretty soon they’re gonna run out of content, and it’s gonna start to affect you.”

Roché also requests that talent with a big platform actually utilize it to bring further awareness to the strike. “I also encourage my friends who have millions of followers to come to the picket line,” he says. “If you can’t come to the picket line, post about it. Put SAG-AFTRA on strike on your Instagram handle, whatever it is; it’s an important thing to do. And I encourage some who haven’t done it to do it. I’m calling you out, actually…I was walking [the picket line earlier this week] with Alfred Molina, the wonderful actor, and Matthew Weiner, the extraordinary creator of MAD MEN. These people are coming in person. And if you can’t come in person, just post something about it. It is really important.”


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