Billy Porter on the Hollywood strikes consequences: ‘I have to sell my house’

Francis Akhalbey August 09, 2023
Billy Porter said the Hollywood strikes have taken a financial toll on him -- Photo Credit: DVSROSS

In a recent interview with Evening Standard, award-winning actor Billy Porter said he has to sell his house as a cost-saving measure because of the current strikes in Hollywood.

The Pose star’s interview with the news outlet mainly focused on his music career, but he ended up touching on his current financial status when he was asked about the strikes. The 53-year-old explained he has had to make financial adjustments to save money as a number of projects he was billed to feature on have been put on hold.

“I have to sell my house,” he said. “Yeah! 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 f— 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. So 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 made those comments in reference to a July-published Deadline article about an anonymous Hollywood executive stating that studios were not going to resume talks with the WGA until its writers went broke. Porter also touched on an interview where Disney CEO Bob Iger said “a level of expectations” the strikers had were not “realistic.”

In that July interview, Iger also said the strikes were “disturbing” to him. “We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it’s not completely back,” the Disney CEO added. 

“This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption…There’s a level of expectation that [strikers] have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.”

But Porter begged to differ, telling the Evening Standard: “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…Then streaming came in.”

The Emmy award-winner added: “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. To hear Bob Iger say that our demands for a living wage are unrealistic? While he makes $78,000 a day?”

“I don’t have any words for it, but: f— you,” he continued. “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 [in England]. But when I go back I will join the picket lines.”

The president of SAG-AFTRA, Fran Drescher, also similarly labeled Iger’s comments as “terribly repugnant,” “out of touch” and “positively tone deaf” in an interview with Variety.

“I don’t think it served him well,” Drescher said. “If I were that company, I would lock him behind doors and never let him talk to anybody about this, because it’s so obvious that he has no clue as to what is really happening on the ground with hard working people that don’t make anywhere near the salary he is making. High seven figures, eight figures, this is crazy money that they make, and they don’t care if they’re land barons of a medieval time.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 9, 2023


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