Why assistants are telling Hollywood it’s time to pay up

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Writer and creator of #PayUpHollywood, Liz Alper, center, speaking at a recent town hall for Hollywood assistants. Photo credit: Twitter

Hollywood executives terrorizing assistants is such a cliche that YouTube offers supercuts of “Entourage” character Ari Gold firing them. 

According to assistants who are now speaking out, that kind of abuse happens. Meanwhile, they are contending with rising costs, low wages, and increasingly bleak prospects for advancement.

If you’re on Hollywood Twitter, you may have seen assistant horror stories shared in recent weeks with #PayUpHollywood, which has now turned into a bonafide movement. 

The creator of that hashtag is Liz Alper. Her days as an assistant are behind her. She’s now a TV writer, but she hasn’t forgotten what her life used to be like. And she’s hoping future generations won’t have to endure what she did. 

As part of their work to make things better for the most vulnerable in the industry, #PayUpHollywood has conducted a recent survey of assistants and support staff. At a recent town hall, Alper shared some of what emerged from more than 1,000 responses so far.

Almost 63% of assistants who took the survey said they made less than $50,000 a year. More than 67% said they had to take on second jobs outside the entertainment industry to supplement their income. Nearly half of the assistants who responded said they were receiving financial help from their parents. 

When Alper came to the studio recently, she was accompanied by Joelle, who is still working as an assistant and asked us not to use her last name for fear of retaliation. 

Alper and script coordinator Joelle share stories from the trenches and explain why assistants feel now is the time to demand change, for the sake of the assistants themselves and the future of the industry. 

Credits

Guests:
Liz Alper - TV writer, creator of #PayUp Hollywood - @LizAlps, Joelle - a script coordinator on a network TV show

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker