cc d d b cfac

Arrington Foster: A Look Inside The Actor’s Life During the SAG-AFTRA Strike

BETs The Family Business star Arrington Foster opens up about the realities of being an up-and-coming actor and his experiences throughout the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike.


Jun. 20 2024, Published 3:51 p.m. ET


On July 14, 2023, Hollywood came to a standstill when the American actors’ union, Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), went on strike over a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

SAG-AFTRA joined in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), who had been negotiating with the AMPTP over pay, streaming residuals, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to be used as a tool for research purposes and not as a tool to replace writers. The 2023 WGA strike began on May 2, after their previous contract expired the day before.

Article continues below advertisement

Similar to the demands of WGA, SAG-AFTRA cited several issues in negotiations including economic fairness, residuals, regulating the use of artificial intelligence, and alleviating the burdens of the industry-wide shift to self-taping.

As part of the rules established, actors couldn’t engage in film or television productions and couldn’t take part in promotional work, such as press junkets, film premieres, and events.

“The writer’s strike didn’t really affect me personally, but when SAG went on strike, that’s what did it for me and every actor in the union,” said actor Arrington Foster who began filming Season 5 of The Family Business on BET in June 2023. The series is an American crime family drama, created by Carl Weber and based on his best-selling crime drama book series that follows the Duncans, an upstanding family who run a car dealership by day. By night, they live a dangerous secret life. After a month and a half of filming, production halted when SAG-AFTRA announced it would be joining the WGA in solidarity by going on strike.

Article continues below advertisement

“It’s scary because this is my livelihood. This is my job. So not knowing what was going on was scary,” Foster said.

Golden Globe Award winner Taraji P. Henson, who’s also part of the union, opened up about her thoughts on the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. “Greed is going to be the end of humanity. Henson said in a statement to USA Today. The Color Purple actress continued, “And the things that actors are asking for is common sense. You can’t use my likeness and get paid, and I don’t see anything? That’s highway robbery. And for any studio to think that that’s fair. It’s beyond like I don’t even understand. Are you human? Do you care about the livelihood of artists?”

Article continues below advertisement

Like the COVID-19 pandemic, Foster didn’t know how long the strike would last and many working actors struggled to make ends meet. Foster, who also works as a bellman, weathered the strike working at an Atlanta hotel.

The 33-year-old actor moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles last Spring, a few months before the SAG-AFTRA strike began. With a major film and television presence including Tyler Perry Studios, Turner Studios, Trillith Studios, and Blackhall Studios, Atlanta is offering more opportunities for actors than ever before. Often referred to as “Black Hollywood”, Atlanta has a thriving black entertainment industry that’s becoming more attractive to up-and-coming artists like Foster. According to NerdWa

“It’s not all roses. I mean, Yes, I’m very blessed. I’m very grateful for how far I’ve come. But this is just the beginning,” Foster said.

While many working actors may feel embarrassed having side jobs, Foster says he wants his story to inspire others.

“That’s the misconception that actors like Taraji [P. Henson] and the strike have allowed non-actors to see; that many actors are not rich. We’re far from it. The 1% of the union are the ones earning top-grossing dollars,” Foster said. “You can’t even apply for health insurance unless you make a certain amount of money,” he added.

Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA, says 86% of the union's members could not meet the $26,500 a year threshold to get their medical benefits.

Article continues below advertisement

Many people believe Hollywood actors are high-paid celebrities, but many of them are not. According to an analysis by the Department of Labor Data, the average yearly salary for actors is $65,125. That number reflects the average earnings of all actors, from the lowest to the highest paid.

Foster worked as a bellman during the strike, and many fans recognized him. However, he mentioned he never felt ashamed because he was able to highlight the realities of being an actor and the importance of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Article continues below advertisement

In October 2023, Foster learned the first four seasons of The Family Business were available on Netflix. This garnered mixed feelings for Foster: on one hand, the show peaked at #6 on the streaming platform and was introduced to a wider audience. On the other hand, SAG-AFTRA was fighting for streaming residuals for actors.

On November 8, 2023, SAG-AFTRA released a statement to its members that announced the end of the strike.

“We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers,” the union said in the email. “Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work.”

Foster says he’s happy with the results of the union’s new contract.

“At the end of the day we’re artists, and we just want to get paid fairly for what we love to do,” Foster said. He continued, “When they were talking about rumors of AI, I was just so turned off because robots can’t tell stories. They don’t have hearts. They don’t have feelings.”

Foster added, “The strike didn’t just affect us. It affected writers, hair stylists, make-up artists, directors, producers, choreographers, dancers, it impacted a lot of people.” He continued, “I’m just happy to work and be back at work. We have to make sure that we’re moving in a good direction so that 4 months of being on strike wasn’t for nothing.”

Article continues below advertisement

The contract provides that actors immediately receive a 7% wage increase. The initial pay raise will be followed by a 4% increase on July 1, 2024, and a 3.5% increase on July 1, 2025.

For streaming projects, along with the usual residual payments, the new contract calls for actors to receive a “success payment” if they work on streaming projects that attract a significant number of viewers

Under the new agreement, 75% of any bonus money will go to the performer. The remainder will go into a new streaming payment distribution fund to compensate performers who work on streaming shows. Moving forward, this means streaming producers will be required to disclose the total number of hours the content was streamed in the U.S., Canada, and abroad each quarter. The intention is to provide transparency to actors and help them determine if they’re being fairly compensated relative to the show’s distribution and success.

Article continues below advertisement

The new labor contract also establishes limits on artificial intelligence by requiring film and TV producers to obtain consent from actors to create and use their digital replicas. They must also specify their intention to use actors' digital likenesses. If their digital replica is used, actors are entitled to compensation at their usual rate for the number of days they would otherwise have been paid to do the work being performed by their digital copy.

Article continues below advertisement

After the end of the strike, Foster returned to set to film the rest of the fifth season of The Family Business.

Foster plays Rio Duncan, one of the youngest children of the Duncan clan who’s willing to do whatever he can to prove to his father that he deserves the same respect as his brothers.

Like his character, Foster is part of the LGBTQ+ community and opened up about the importance of representation in television and film.

“You don’t see that type of character on a black show too often, so the fact that this character has resonated with a lot of people, or they have a Rio in their family, it means the world to me,” Foster said.

Article continues below advertisement

As for Season 5, Foster says audiences can expect more of Rio, with more screen time than previous seasons.

“This upcoming season, Rio has a storyline and arc that’s extraordinary,” Foster said. “It’s crazy and exciting. You’re going to see more levels of Rio. Him being a boss and taking his power. I think I get to show more of my acting chops too.”

Season 5 of The Family Business premieres in July 2024.

While Foster’s show was able to resume filming following the SAG-AFTRA strike, many shows didn’t have the same fate. The actor says he’s grateful to get back to work immediately following the strike because many actors didn’t have the opportunity due to their shows being canceled. The strike may have temporarily stalled Foster’s career, but its results will hopefully offer him a sustainable living wage to focus on acting full-time.

It’s not just a magazine. It’s a lifestyle!

Sign up for our newsletter for early access to content, special promotions and giveaways.

Dope content. No spam. We promise.


Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 Bleu Mag. Bleu Mag is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.