The SAG-AFTRA strike is in its second week, and it’s likely not ending any time soon. That gives plenty of time for Hollywood actors to share horror stories. Among their demands is better pay, especially when it comes to residuals, which have plummeted in the streaming era. Last week Mandy Moore revealed that she gets pathetically tiny residual checks for This is Us. She’s not the only one with similar stories.
As per Deadline, William Stanford Davis, who plays scene-stealing custodian Mr. Johnson on Abbott Elementary, took to Instagram to share a video in which he showed off a very small residuals check. How small? Three whole cents.
“I’ve been a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild for 32 years, and for those 32 years, my wages haven’t increased at all,” Davis said in the video. “I want to give you an example of what a residual cheque looks like. I showed this to my brother and he fell over laughing… it ain’t f*cking funny.”
David then held up the puny check.
“That’s a residual cheque,” he said, adding, “I’m not going to say who produced it, because I can’t tell you who these cheap motherf*ckers are. But anyway, I’m standing in solidarity with the writers, and we’re going to be on strike until we get what we need to make a living.”
As he noted, it’s not clear if it’s a check for Abbott Elementary, but he has decades of experience on the small and big screen.
Later in the video, Davis held up a slightly bigger check, this one for five cents.
“You see that? Can you believe that? That’s [five] cents. The postage, the paper, everything costs more than that,” he said. “That’s what they think of us as actors. This is why we’re on strike for better wages, for better residuals [and] for a piece of the subscription and to not give in to AI.”
Residuals refer to an ongoing stream of royalties from the reusing of a film or show, be it a rerun or re-airing on television or sales from home video. When the industry leaned more aggressively towards streaming, studios didn’t renegotiate contracts with guilds like the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, leading members to see a severe drop in their finances.