Friday, December 8, 2023

#PayUpHollywood Releases Dismal 2020 Survey Results

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#PayUpHollywood today released its second annual survey of the challenges faced by entertainment industry support staff, which this year was specifically designed to track the progress of support staff pay, work conditions, and treatment over the past year and the particular difficulties that have arisen during the pandemic. Key findings and detailed data are linked below.

A total of 1,014 participants took the survey, which launched on November 16, 2020 and closed December 18, 2020. 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 widely today; qualitative results, some of which included potentially identifying data, have been kept private to protect assistants from any risk of retaliation.

Results show that, in a time that sees Hollywood calling for more diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry, the pay barriers enacted pre-pandemic have only grown higher. The cost of living in Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas has not decreased. Many of the respondents have seen their cost of living increase thanks to additional expenses related to working from home.

Among the second annual survey’s key findings are:

  • 79.11% of respondents reported making $50,000 or less in 2020 from their entertainment job, a 14.70% increase from 2019. 35.11% reported making less than $30,000 in 2020. A minimum annual income of $53,600 is required to not be considered “cost-burdened” in Los Angeles (ie, spending more than 30% of one’s income on rent.)
  • 37.46% of respondents are currently receiving financial support from friends or family to cover reasonable living expenses.
  • 19.05% of support staffers have reported having to move in with family, friends or move out to the state because of lost income due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
  • Over 50% of respondents working from home reported shouldering office expenses previously covered by companies. 58.67% of those respondents were not offered any kind of compensation for the additional expenses.
  • In 2020, 30.56% of survey takers reported paying for health insurance out of pocket, with 27.27% of that group paying $200 or more a month for insurance.
  • Of the respondents who stayed in one position for multiple years, 59.31% were not able to negotiate more than minimum pay over the course of their tenure.
  • 76.62% of respondents identified as white, a 1.59% decrease from the 2019 survey. Latinx was the only ethnicity group to surpass 10% of the total at 10.44%.
  • Only 6.05% respondents identified as being a Person with Disabilities.

We have seen reports of companies ending the Covid pandemic pay cuts for their top earning executives while continuing to cut hours, transfer work expenses, and increase the workload of the assistants and support staff of this industry, if not lay them off entirely. What steps are studios and companies taking to offer the same protection to their support staffers as they are to their highest executives?”

Liz Alper, co-founder of #PayUpHollywood

This year’s survey results were condensed into an infographic that provided data on financial, social, emotional and safety issues that faced support staffers in 2020. Two images are below and the the full graphic can be found here, while the entirety of the quantitative survey data can be found here.

#PayUpHollywood hopes to shine a light on the issues facing support staffers during the pandemic. As the industry starts to heal after a brutal year, the group urges entertainment workers to keep an eye on abusive and exploitative practices targeting support staffers under the guise of COVID-19 hardship.

This survey is the next step in tracking the progress the industry makes in addressing low wages, workplace abuse and hiring bias in Entertainment. Los Angeles-based assistants and coordinators suffering financial hardship related to COVID-19 are encouraged to apply for relief from the Hollywood Support Staff Relief Fund, managed by the Actor’s Fund.

A one-time stipend of $1000 is given to support staffers who meet the criteria and submit the required documents. Apply for relief HERE. This lifeline builds on #PayUpHollywood’s Spring 2020 emergency relief fund efforts, which distributed more than $500,000 in emergency relief funds to support staff struggling with COVID-related financial stresses.

#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 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. #PayUpHollywood is an anti-racist organization and believes the addressing these issues will help to break down the barriers keeping underrepresented groups from succeeding in Hollywood and promote inclusion and diversity at all levels in the industry.

Considering that lack of a living wage also impacts staffers who wish to become writers, which in turn impacts the diversity of writers rooms across broadcast, cable, and streaming, it is beyond time for companies to literally pay up especially now with COVID-19!

Images courtesy of #PayUpHollywood.


  • Seher

    Seher is the Associate Editor-in-Chief at The Fandomentals focusing on the ins and outs of TV, media representation, games, and other topics as they pique her interest. Otherwise, she's reading away for graduate school. pc: @poika_

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