#PayUpHollywood Releases Survey of 1,500 Entertainment Industry Assistants’ Pay, Working Conditions

Liz Alper
Liz Alper
Dec 3, 2019 · 3 min read

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Jamarah Hayner

646–262–8044 | jamarah.hayner@gmail.com

#PayUpHollywood Releases Survey of More than 1,500 Entertainment Industry Assistants Detailing Data on Pay, Working Conditions and Diversity Challenges

LOS ANGELES — A survey released today by #PayUpHollywood shows the prevalence of assistants suffering from low wages and unhealthy work conditions at entertainment studios, talent agencies and other industry employers. This unsustainable system makes it nearly impossible for assistants to live and work in the industry they love, given the skyrocketing cost of living in Los Angeles and other entertainment centers. It also compounds barriers to diversity and empowerment, at a time when advocates within the industry and their allies are calling for more fairness, safety, and representation in Hollywood.

Among the survey’s key findings are:

  • 64.41% of respondents reported making $50,000 or less per year. A minimum annual income of $53,600 is required to not be considered “rent-burdened” in Los Angeles (ie, spending more than 30% of your income on rent.)
  • 67.58% of respondents reported having to work a second job to make ends meet while working as an assistant.
  • 78.21% of respondents reported their ethnicity as white; no other ethnicity comprised more than 10% of the total.
  • 78.61% of respondents who reported receiving financial assistance from family or friends also identified their ethnicity as white, showing a linkage between people’s ethnicities and the general ability of their families and peer groups to support their participation in low-paying careers. This privilege is not found among the majority of assistants of color.
  • 92.67% of respondents reported working more than 40 hours per week, with 15.04% reporting working more than 60 hours per week.
  • 92.29% of respondents reported an increase in anxiety due to work. 66.03% reported an increase in depression. 23.69% reported an increase in substance abuse.
  • 104 respondents reported having an object thrown at them by a supervisor or colleague.
  • 81.33% of respondents reported being asked to perform personal errands for their supervisors during work hours; 33.7% were asked to perform personal errands outside of work hours.
  • 68.61% respondents are between the ages of 25–34, which disproves the myth that the majority of assistants are in their first year or two out of college. 46.97% have been in their roles for more than 3 years.

“Hollywood has created a paywall around the industry that keeps out anyone who doesn’t come from money or who won’t put up with absurd, unsafe and potentially illegal working conditions,” said #PayUpHollywood co-founder Liz Alper. “We need to move past the tired myth that ‘this is just how it’s always been’, because it’s not true. Hollywood did not always negligently add to the income inequality, housing and mental health crises our country is facing. We can and must do better.”

“Assistants are happy to pay their dues, but they deserve to be paid a living wage while they do it,” said co-founder Deirdre Mangan. “With studios paying ten figures for For Your Consideration campaigns and agencies pushing for half-billion-dollar equity raises from IPOs, industry profits are at an all-time high. Can they really not spare an extra few hundred dollars a week so that the human beings who make their work possible can live safely and sanely?”

#PayUpHollywood is an organic movement that exploded online in October 2019 in response to a ScriptNotes conversation between hosts John August and Craig Mazin about assistants’ pay. Hundreds of assistants, who had been privately been sharing their experiences for years, began telling their stories on Twitter and elsewhere online, organized around the hashtag created by co-founders Liz Alper and Deirdre Mangan. This survey is the next step in that process: providing quantitative data to show how widespread and unsustainable these issues are.

A total of 1,516 participants took the survey, which launched on November 14 and closed December 1. Respondents are current or former assistants at studios, talent agencies, production/development companies, and in-house production and post-production departments. All of the quantitative results were released; qualitative results, some of which included potentially identifying data, were kept private to protect assistants from any risk of retaliation.

To view the results of the survey, click here

Liz Alper

Written by

TV writer

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