Pay to Play

Fortmueller, Kate (2016). Pay to Play: Booking Roles in the Post-Network Era. Journal of Film and Video 68 (3-4), 115-128

Abstract: This article examines the often-overlooked industrial ecosystem of performer labor. A complex economy surrounds the work of “being an actor” in Los Angeles. In their quest to be cast in film and television roles, many actors come in contact with ancillary businesses, which support and facilitate the central production and distribution goals of the media industries. These businesses both manage and professionalize actors and function as gatekeepers that ultimately impact what and who appears on screen. Drawing on data from personal interviews with actors and owners of two types of ancillary businesses, this article situates an actor’s work in the contemporary media industries, emphasizing that many performers who are unable to sell their labor power remain embedded in the media industry as consumers of services provided by this ecosystem of screen acting.

Kate Fortmueller