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Hollywood’s ‘Journeyman’ Actors Explain Why They Are Striking

Read on to know why journeyman actors at different stages of their careers have different reasons for striking.

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Striking writers and actors chant as they walk a picket line. (Image: AP)

JASON Kravits gets a lot of this: People recognize him – they’re just not sure how. “I’m that guy who looks like the guy you went to high school with,” says Kravits. “People think they’ve just seen me somewhere.”

Actually, they have — on TV, usually as a lawyer, or a doctor. “I’ve had enough roles that I’ve been in your living room on any given night,” the veteran actor says. “But mostly people don’t know my name.”

Kravits is one of those actors union leaders refer to as “journeymen” — who tend to work for scale pay, and spend at least as much time lining up work as working. They can have a great year, then a bad one, without much rhyme or reason. “We’re always on the verge of struggling,” says Kravits.

And they, not the big Hollywood names joining the picket lines, are the heart of the actors’ strike.

Many say they fear the general public thinks all actors get paid handsomely and are doing it for love of the craft, almost as a hobby. Yet in most cases it’s their only job, and they need to qualify for health insurance, pay rents or mortgages, pay for school and college for their kids.

“All of us aren’t Tom Cruise,” says Amari Dejoie, 30, who studies acting, does background jobs (as an extra) and modeling to keep afloat, and is considering waitressing during the strike. “We have to pay rent and bills, and they’re due on the first. And your apartment does not care that your check wasn’t as high as you expected it to be.”

In interviews, a few journeyman actors at different stages of their careers discussed their lives and their reasons for striking:

THAT ONE-PENNY CHECK

Recently Jennifer Van Dyck got a couple residual checks in the mail — one for 60 cents, one for 72 cents. But she’s seen worse. “The joke is when you get the one-cent check that cost 44 cents to be mailed to you,” says the veteran New York actor.

Still, Van Dyck counts herself lucky. With many appearances on network shows like “The Blacklist,” “Madam Secretary” and especially ”Law & Order,” where she’s appeared as a guest star 13 times, plus voiceover work, she’s been able to make a living for more than 30 years without having to take a job outside the industry.

“You just keep jumping around,” she says. “When things get dry in one area you move to the next. It’s keeping all the balls in the air: theater, film, television, voiceover, audiobooks. Call us journeypeople: Half the job requirement is looking for work.”

Van Dyck says the emergence of streaming has cut into an actor’s income alarmingly, because streamers give tiny residuals, if that. And when it comes to negotiating a rate to appear on a show, the studios don’t seem to care if you have 37 years of experience. “They say, “This is what we’re offering, take it or leave it.’”

.She’s still struck by the common misperception that actors must be rich and famous. “The majority of us aren’t,” she says. “But all those other parts (in a hit show), and all those other shows that get sidelined or disappear — that’s work, too. And those stories can’t be told without (us).”

“No one wants to strike,” Van Dyck adds. But she feels the industry is at an inflection point. And, “at a certain point you have to say, ‘No Mas.’”

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