SAG-AFTRA Launches Probe of Racism Allegations by Stunt Performers

The SAG-AFTRA National Board is creating a task force to investigate allegations of racist practices in the stunt community.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, “We have heard the personal stories of paintdowns, wiggings, harassment, and bias and we stand together to say ‘no more’. This board recommitted itself to our mission of diversity, equity and inclusion for underrepresented stunt performers. Today, we are taking decisive action to address these systemic issues.”

The board announced Friday night that the task force will investigate current practices and develop and recommend  protocols to help ensure fair and equitable hiring practices within the stunt community.

The issue arose a month ago when an open letter was sent to the board on behalf of stunt performers who are BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities. Signees asserted that their talents are overlooked, denied and discredited, professional opportunities foreclosed and careers foreshortened and asked that a special investigative task force composed of members from both within and outside the stunt community, with appropriate racial, gender and geographic diversity, to report back on specific measures.

“We have watched from the outside as white stunt performers are painted down, suited/helmeted or men wigged in a grotesque simulation of those of us denied employment,” the Sept. 30 letter said. “Modern-day blackface is Hollywood’s shameful secret. We’ve been taunted, ostracized, harassed and threatened simply for showing up or speaking up. We have been shut down, shut up and shut out for far too long.”

Crystal Santos, one of signers of the letter, said there are about 1,480 SAG-AFTRA stunt performers in Los Angeles and 2,200 nationwide.

The national board also passed a resolution Friday to formally recognize SAG-AFTRA member volunteers and professional staff for their efforts to maintain core union operations and ensure uninterrupted member service throughout the pandemic. The resolution city the development of the Return to Work agreement with studios, the continued processing of members’ residuals payments, and the day-to-day efforts of all members and staff in maintaining stable union operations during the global pandemic.

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