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- Writers Guild of America members are currently on strike after their contract expired with no new deal with TV and movie studios.
- Many have complained of low pay, especially when writing for a show on a streaming service.
- Several said they applied to or were working retail jobs when they found out they were nominated for awards.
As the Writers Guild of America strike continues, halting productions from late night shows to Marvel movies as guild members push studios for better pay and improved working conditions, many are using social media to share their struggles to stay afloat in the industry.
In response to an Insider story about a writer for the FX hit series “The Bear” who told The New Yorker he attended the WGA Awards when the show was nominated with a negative bank account balance, writer Alrinthea Carter sent a tweet that sparked several similar stories.
“I was applying (and was subsequently rejected) for a full time job at Target when I was nominated for an Emmy,” Carter tweeted, referring to her nomination as part of the writing team on the HBO comedy “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”
Several writers chimed in with supporting stories, and some said they had also been rejected from retail jobs after they had TV shows on their resume, noting they believe companies can be hesitant to hire writers who may leave when they get another writing job.
Dozens of users responded and quoted the tweet with their support for Carter and other striking writers, saying they assumed writers on successful TV shows made enough to live between writing jobs. Proving that theory wrong, several writers shared their own experiences struggling to make ends meet.
“I was working at Madewell when I found out about my Emmy nomination,” writer Maggie Cannan said, referring to her nomination as one of the writers on an episode of Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” reboot.
She continued: “The cognitive dissonance of going to a fancy award show where you’re recognized for your writing and waking up the next day to fold jeans because writing jobs are so few….boy howdy lemme tell ya it’s rough”
Jake Goldman, whose IMDb page lists credits as a writer and crew member on shows including “Futurama” and Cartoon Network’s reboot of the early-2000s “Powerpuff Girls,” shared his experience working jobs through the gig economy when his episode of “Powerpuff Girls” was selected to appear at a film festival.
“When the studio called me to say my work was going to be featured at the Annecy Film Festival, I was at a Burger King in Compton, working for GrubHub, hustling for a delivery that would pay me a total of $5,” Goldman tweeted. “The studio asked if I would pay for my own flight to go to France.”
Mitali Jahagirdar said the same day she was nominated for a WGA award for an episode of the Disney+ series “Just Beyond,” she “had to remind my landlord to fix the broken toilet in my apartment.”
Annie Nishida, who has credits writing for shows on Netflix, Nickelodeon, and Disney quoted Carter’s tweet and said she teaches multiple fitness classes a week while she is between jobs and while she is working. “I never know when work is going to dry up,” she wrote.
Entertainers from outside the US also shared their experiences, including Canadian filmmaker Kelly Zemnickis who said she was applying to other jobs when her work was nominated for an award.
“I relate to this,” Zemnickis said. “When I got nominated for a Canadian Screen Award (Canada’s Emmy) – I was applying for a job at a coffee shop. I didn’t get the job. My film went on to win an award at another festival.”
The writers did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests to comment.