The actors' strike is over, but the roughly four-month work stoppage had talent agents and casting directors worrying about their livelihoods. After all, those roles are essential to actors. One finds jobs for actors, and the other auditions and casts them.
“There was a first period of time, I just sat around wondering, ‘Wow, what's going to happen?’ And then I realized, ‘Oh, I haven't actually not been thinking about work for 20 years.’ … During COVID, I only had a few weeks off, and then I worked just the same … but just from my home,” recalls Cuba, who did the casting for Stranger Things and Magic Mike’s Last Dance. “And then I let scripts pile up and couldn't figure out how to even read them. … Then I did things that I do anyway, but I just did more of it, like watching a lot of films I missed or revisiting old ones. I did do this weird thing of … listening on Audible to celebrity memoirs.”
Meanwhile, Veloric still came to the office daily during the actors’ strike and picketed a few mornings with clients. In terms of getting them work, he found Off-Broadway plays and theatrical productions from London.
He points out, “Picketing for me felt so productive because I was able to just be with people who are experiencing this fear and the problems they were having in their families because of the strike, and also talk to people who said things to me like, ‘The last strike is the reason I have my pension.’ So I learned more about labor and … change and … wealth inequality.”
Both Veloric and Cuba feel that the actors’ new contract with studios gives their clients more protection against artificial intelligence. But he points out that the industry had similar concerns about animation years ago, and The White Lotus and Stranger Things couldn’t have been made without AI.
As for business now, Cuba says she is resuming projects that were in various stages of production.
“I'm finding it particularly challenging to step back into things. … It's a weird thing to even remember what scripts you had read that you'd already cast, and now looking to the next ones,” Cuba explains. “But it's also exciting. … I feel like everyone having been out of work for so long and all the hardships that everyone really, really endured — for the sake of this … let's just get everyone we can back to work.”
Veloric says business picked up an hour after the strike was settled. “It was busy almost immediately. It has been progressively, excitingly busy. And there are lots of conversations going on, and a lot of projects are coming back that got halted at that moment. And people are getting ready to go back to work, and some people are back to work already.”