Over the weekend, an actor and a casting director got into what they call an exchange on Twitter. Point of contention being pay inequality between actors from Atlanta vs those in other markets, often for the same roles.
TLDR: blaming casting for your problems is barking up the wrong tree.
Just to establish bona fides: I didn't focus on acting until 2015, and I didn't really start getting noticed for it until 2018 when I retired from fight choreography. But I've been in the Atlanta market since 2009, when I left active duty. And my toes were dipped in the water even before I enlisted.
And through that decade and change since the tax incentives kicked in, there has always been points of contention between Atlanta and LA.
Frankly speaking, we stole their lunch money on a large scale.
I know "I suffered so you should too" is a bullshit argument. But saying that to actors who actually had to live in LA, pay four times the rent for half the space, be in the room every time (and pay a lot of money in parking tickets over the years as a result), not to mention deal with the rest of the bullshit inherent in living there, is not a winning strategy.
A roundabout argument kicked in where LA actors were stuck up and no better than those in Atlanta, and Atlanta actors were cheap and lazy upstarts who wanted to make it big overnight without paying their dues.
And to be honest, there were solid examples on both sides.
That said, this was happening to the whole industry, who rooted for the home team when possible. For the early years, when an LA actor was late, or showed up unprepared, or went off the rails, well, that was a crappy actor. But when an Atlanta actor did the same thing, all of Atlanta's talent pool got tarred with the same brush.
The learning curve was steep and painful and yeah, I climbed it too.
Breakdowns nowadays say "keep it real and grounded" like a tent revival preacher says "Amen" for a fucking reason, folks.
(Then there was the wonkiness of people who tried dual residency to game the system. Some people are always looking for cheat codes, I guess. I've never seen any that worked for more than one person, so I haven't bothered.)
But in Atlanta's corner the entire time, championing the Atlanta talent pool, were the handful of casting directors who are based locally and believed in local talent.
Then the pandemic hit, and the one big weakness in the Atlanta talent pool became the gold standard nationwide.
I'm talking about self-taping.
L.A. hated it for years. They wanted in the room. Wheras Atlanta had been doing self-tapes regularly since they became a thing in 2010 or so. So when work started up again, nobody wanted to be in any room, self-taping became a gold standard, and the industry was waiting.
It didn't seem that way, because the return to work protocols also meant a sharp drop in costars and day players, which were and are overrepresented in Atlanta. But they're also the majority of available roles in every market, so what you gonna do?
So yeah, there probably is a pay disparity. And it's not like the union's being any help there (who was it that called Georgia a right-to-freeload state again?) Adjusting territorial lines might be worth bringing up at the next round of negotiations.
But again, casting isn't the culprit.
Casting is one department among many, answering to a producer and responsible for their budget. And in the case of location casting, the person who sees you might not even be a department head. I have yet to see a casting director that won't fight for an actor. But there's only so much they can do. We all pick and choose our battles every day.
Maybe there's some movement for transparency at the producer level that would shine some light on it some more. But I'm not holding my breath.
At the end of the day, we're all mercenaries fighting for our piece of the action. We all step into the room alone with our preparation, our training, and our instincts, and what happens happens.
Take care of yourselves out there.