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#PayUpHollywood Trending After Horrible Working Conditions Reported At Studios, Production Companies

Hollywood assistants are beginning to organize, with the arrival of the hashtag #PayUpHollywood, in response to reports of widespread horrid working conditions across studios and production companies.
According to Variety, a recent poll that surveyed over 1,500 support staffers in the entertainment industry showed that assistants are being asked to stretch themselves far beyond their limits with terrible pay and almost no hope for promotion or job mobility. One in four even reported of indulging in substance abuse, as a result. From the report:
According to the poll — which surveyed assistants at studios, agencies, production and development companies, in-house production and post-production departments — 93% of those who responded reported that their job has led to an increase in anxiety, and 66% said they have been experiencing increased feelings of depression as a result of their work experiences.
Some of the survey’s findings point to gender and racial disparities within the industry. (Around 70% of the assistants surveyed were women, in contrast with the upper echelons of the industry, and 78.21% were white.) Meanwhile, other statistics point to issues which haven’t been as widely discussed.
Most distressingly, of those polled, a total of 104 assistants reported being physically abused at the hands of their boss throwing an object (often a stapler) at them while working. Despite this, assistants are reportedly terrified to report the abuse in fear of facing professional repercussions. Beyond that, the assistants reported working long hours (sometimes including 16-hour days) by performing duties well beyond their job description for wages below $50,000.
“Given the current cost of living in Los Angeles, an assistant would have to be paid $53,600 after taxes in order to not be rent-burdened, which means that housing costs encompass more than 30% of their income,” reported Variety. “It’s no surprise, therefore, that 90% of the assistants who took the survey reported being rent-burdened.”
Liz Alper, co-founder of #PayUpHollywood, said the industry has essentially created a paywall that prevents middle-class dreamers from getting an entry-level position — leaving them open only to privileged rich kids whose parents often subsidize their income. She states:
What the data shows is, despite record profits logged by studios this year, the entertainment industry across the board is refusing to pay assistants a living wage,” said Alper. “The paywall enacted here is tall, keeping out the dreamers and Hollywood hopefuls who do not come from wealthy families or historically privileged communities. And when millions of dollars are poured in FYC campaigns but 67.58% of assistants have to take on a second job to afford working their entertainment job, and 52% of assistants have to ask their families for financial help so they don’t starve, it should be a wake call for all us, that we have to stand up and speak out and say, ‘This is not right, this is not acceptable, and this must change.
While some might dismiss these alleged workplace abuses as rough stepping stones for assistants having to “pay their dues,” the survey also showed that job mobility for assistants has increasingly stagnated in recent years.
“About 40% of respondents have been working as an assistant for 1-3 years, a typical period of time that one would expect to remain in an entry-level position,” Variety continued. “But 20% of those polled have been working as an assistant for more than 5 years, and 27% remain support staffers after 3-5 years in the role — challenging the long-held notion that being a Hollywood assistant offers a direct stepping stone to a higher-level career in the industry.”
Here are some other findings that Variety listed from the survey:

  • 7.27%, or 58, of those polled reported childcare as one of the tasks they have been asked to perform beyond their official duties.
  • One out of five respondents said they don’t feel comfortable leaving their desk to go to the bathroom at work.
  • 72.9% of respondents make between $500-$900 a week after taxes.
  • 30% of those surveyed work at a studio or network, roughly 20% at an agency or management company, and 20% at a production company.
  • 30% of respondents have been asked by their bosses to perform personal errands outside of work hours.

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