Thursday, November 10, 2016

Unionizing of Telemundo acting community

After a successful summer, Telemundo is continuing to decrease the ratings gap with Univision. Despite the success, however, Telemundo is facing many questions in terms of their treatment of their actors. Owned by NBCUniversal, Telemundo has been accused of setting a "double-stander" by paying its English-counterparts nearly twice what telenovela actors make. Not only do NBC's English production actors make more, they are also given healthcare benefits, pensions, and overtime pay. Because of this, Hollywood's largest union, SAG-AFTRA, has been in a protracted dispute with NBCUniversal in hopes of unionizing the Telenovela acting community. "The disparity of wage earnings for Spanish-speaking performers versus English-speaking is stunning," said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. Telemundo spokesman Alfredo Richard responded to SAG-AFTRA's demand by saying that they "support the actors wanting to join a union." Evidence of the unequal pay in the telenovela industry can be seen in Alex Ruiz, a Mexican native that appeared in Telemundo's telenovela "Quien es Quien?" After working 12-hour days with few breaks over the course of a month, Ruiz said he was paid $5,000, which his manager took %10 of. "They work you until you drop... You feel like you are being taken advantage of. If you are paying me less, atleast the treatment should be better," said Ruiz. Ruiz then went on to work for a short series filmed by Fox called "Touch." Ruiz made that same $5,000 figure except he did it in less then four days. Another example of telenovela actors struggling to make ends meat can be seen in Pablo Azar, a Mexican actor famous for his role in several telenovelas such as "Aurora," "Lynch," and "La Fan." In contrast with most English actors, Azar not only acts but also works as an Uber driver during the night to make more money.“At first, I was ashamed of this,” he said. “Our fans from Latin America who watch novelas, they think we are millionaires and that we drive Ferraris and live in Beverly Hills.” Azar is not alone in his struggle to make enough money as he shares it with the hundreds of other actors that work with Telemundo. As the largest employer for Spanish speaking actors in the United States, I believe Telemundo and its employers need to get on the same page. Im not sure if the Telemundo's actors need to go on strike, for example, but I believe we live in a time where equal employee benefits are something that need to be addressed.

1 comment:

  1. Sam,

    I found this blog post so interesting! It had me thinking a lot about a BuzzFeed post I read recently. African American actresses such as Kerry Washington in Scandal and Viola Davis of How to Get Away With Murder have both discussed how despite their countless awards and consistently high show ratings, they get paid sometimes half of what their white counterparts get paid for shows much less known. Both Scandal and HTGAWM are some of Netflix's most watched dramas right next to series like Grey's Anatomy. Unfortunately, Ellen Pompeo gets paid close to 600K more than these women. There is such an interesting parallel in pay inequality with telenovelas as well. This is not just something occurring to Latin Americans or Spanish television companies, but to other races as well. Thanks so much for bringing these issues to light!