As the Industry Support Fund and The Actors Fund (which administers the ISF) continue to help industry workers who lost income and health care coverage during the strike, we offer this helpful post from freelance journalist and United Hollywood lover Becca Bryan. -TES
DON'T GET CAUGHT WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN! THE ACTORS FUND IS THERE FOR EVERYONE.
by Becca Bryan
As someone who has lost a few jobs in the last couple of years, I can attest to being too proud to call my parents or friends for help. There is something about being an adult and a professional that prevents us from asking anyone for help when we need it. You are lucky to employed in the entertainment industry. There is help for you.
I took advantage during a recent trip to LA to interview Keith McNut, Director-Western Region for The Actors Fund My reason for doing this is the concern for the still out of work production staffs of many films and TV shows. During our conversation, Mr. McNut brought up some very important pieces of information which I thought you might need to know.
The Actors Fund is anticipating another 3-6 months of assisting members of the entertainment industry affected by the now ended Writers Strike. Everyone in the entertainment industry, union and non-union, is eligible to receive assistance from The Actors Fund. And they give grants, not loans, so you don't have to pay them back, thank God. They also provide job placement assistance for positions both inside the entertainment industry and beyond.
Even if you think you may not meet their eligibility requirements, CALL ANYWAY. You have nothing to lose and could possibly gain some needed financial or job placement help.
As health insurance renewal time is near, it is critical to NOT LET YOUR INSURANCE LAPSE. I can attest to the devastating shock when I got my COBRA Letter. My COBRA coverage was more than my car payment and half the amount of my rent. Not able to afford it, I went without. But I live in Florida, not California, where a pre-existing medical condition can rule you out to a new insurer. The Actors Fund can help with COBRA payments. These people find it hard to say no. And damn they are nice.
To get help, you begin by scheduling a call with the Intake Counselor. The call takes about an hour and you'll need to have the following information:
1. The Actors Fund application (call and they can snail mail it to you)
2. Resume (or playbill, letter from employer, some proof that you worked in the entertainment industry)
3. Monthly Budget Form (found on their website)
4. Proof of earnings in the entertainment industry (one or all)
- Union earnings printout
- Union, network, studio contracts
6. Rent/Mortgage Statement: Lease, Current Bill, Canceled Checks, Money orders, Mortgage/Maintenance Bill
7. Bills: Water, Electricity, Cell, Cable/Sat, Landline Phone, etc.
8. Bank Statement: Checking, Savings or other
9. Documentation of Medical Condition: This is especially important if you have a pre-existing medical condition for which a new insurer could reject you.
What else? The Actors Fund has taken 700 calls (30-50/day) from Jan 1-Feb 15 which is when this interview was conducted. Of those, 320 reached out and received assistance. The remainder either found other work, received help somewhere else or will hopefully complete the intake process.
The Fund has given a total of $470,354.96 since the strike began. 57% of the recipients were below the line (production assistants, gaffers, craft services, staff accountants as examples), 38% were performers (singers, dancers, actors) and 5% were writers.
Three of the Actors Fund's biggest donors are: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS ($150,000), the Writers Guild of America ($80,000) and George Clooney ($25,000).
For those readers not in the industry, please donate what you can. You can do it online, by phone or snail mail. The Actors Fund and other industry-related relief funds can use the help. No they aren’t broke. But hey, every little bit helps. Pitch in.
Phone Numbers: 800-221-7303 (Nationwide) or 323-933-9244, Ext. 55 (CA) Website: www.actorsfund.org (applicant documents can be found here)