This is a terrifying new development with the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.
Right now, the world is watching on as Hollywood is in shambles. Members of Hollywood’s writing and acting guilds are feverously striking with the studios for better pay and contracts. Of the many issues that prompted that strike, a concept at the forefront is how artificial intelligence is used to replace the work of actors.
For WGA, this means fighting against studios’ using AI to create scripts instead of hiring writers. For actors, this means fighting against studios’ being able to scan the bodies and faces of actors so they can be used in future projects without consent or pay.
Actor Speaks Out on Being Scanned Without Permission
In a shocking revelation, a background actor from the hit Disney+ series WandaVision has exposed the entertainment giant for utilizing artificial intelligence to scan actors without their consent or providing them with any additional payment. Marvel Studios, under the umbrella of Disney, has been known for using cutting-edge technology to create digital replicas of actors in their movies and TV shows. However, using this technology without proper consent or additional payment is shocking for actors like Alexandria Rubalcaba.
Alexandria Rubalcaba is a background actor who worked on WandaVision. In a recent interview with NPR, Rubalcaba revealed that during her time on set, she and a group of other background actors had their bodies and faces scanned without consent. She explains she was instructed to;
“Have your hands out. Have your hands in. Look this way. Look that way. Let us see your scared face. Let us see your surprised face.”
Rubalcaba is terrified to know that now her digital scan can be used by Disney in the future without her consent or without any additional payment.
SAG-AFTRA Fights for Background Actors
The main concern for background actors like Alexandria Rubalcaba is the fact that these digital scans could be used in the replacement of background actors. The standard pay for these actors is $187 a day, and studios could easily use the body scans as a free way to replace background actors. It also takes away the authority from background actors to choose what projects they want their faces attached to. Rubalcaba explains;
“What if I don’t want to be on MarioVision, or SarahVision? I fear that AI is eventually going to weed out background actors. They won’t have any use for us anymore.”
While working as a background actor on “WandaVision,” Alexandria Rubalcaba says she and others had their faces & bodies scanned to create digital replicas of themselves.
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 2, 2023
Until justice can be served for actors and writers in these unions, the strikes will continue.