You May Be Surprised at What SAG Actors Can Still Do

Soap operas, jingles, and other unusual loopholes in strike prohibitions

It’s fairly obvious what members of SAG-AFTRA can’t do as a result of the strike that was called on July 13: Act. Right?

There are other prohibitions for members who want to remain in good standing with the union. This includes on-camera singing, dancing, performing stunts, and puppeteering.

Or off-camera work like doing TV or theatrical trailers. And promotions under the organization’s TV/Theatrical Contracts are out, which explains why the likes of Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy aren’t blanketing the media right now.

However. . .there are plenty of things that SAG-AFTRA members can do.

Including acting.

“Wait!” you say. “The strike is against the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), which includes the likes of Amazon/MGM, Apple, NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC/Fox, Netflix, Paramount/CBS, Sony and Warner Brothers. Are you suggesting that they can act in community playhouses or something?”

No. They could very well appear on a soap opera—tomorrow.

Turns out there are a variety of other agreements that SAG has struck over the years, including something called the “National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting.” Or simply the Network Code.

This allows actors to participate in soap operas, variety shows, reality shows, and game shows.

They can use their vocal skills for jingles and infomericals.

There is opportunity in the television and new media animation space—but not animated films for theatrical release.

Audiobooks for “existing literary works”—which brings an epistemological issue to mind (could you read non-existing books?)—are OK.

However, anything related to “struck work”—even sending tweets out about it—is off the table.

If you ever had any doubt about the importance of comic books to today’s Hollywood, consider this: according to SAG-AFTRA “You cannot participate in conventions such as Comic-Con on behalf of, or to promote, companies we are striking against—this includes appearances, panels, fan meet and greets, etc. involving struck work. You may participate in a convention in ways that are wholly independent of characters from struck work or sponsorship by struck companies.”

Presumably they permit scanning badges at the door.

For those who violate the terms: “Any member who disregards the strike order could face discipline, per the SAG-AFTRA Constitution and SAG-AFTRA Membership rules.”


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Stephen Macaulay

Stephen Macaulay writes about the music industry for Glorious Noise ( began his career in Rockford, Illinois, a place about which Warren Zevon once told a crowd, “How can you miss with a name like Rockford?”

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