‘Broad City’ Star Ilana Glazer Calls AMPTP’s Treatment ‘Criminal,’ ‘Dehumanizing’ and ‘Unprofitable’ (Video)

While protesting during the WGA’s young writers solidarity picket, writers rallied against mini-rooms and gatekeeping

While standing outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza by the picket lines, tambourine in hand, “Broad City” co-creator and star Ilana Glazer kept returning to the same sentiment.

“I’m so angry,” Glazer told TheWrap. “I’m so angry that I’m bursting at the seams.”

That feeling permeated across the WGA’s “young writers picket,” a day dedicated to writers either in college, fresh out of college or at the beginning of their careers who eventually want to become part of the WGA. According to WGA strike captain Dylan Guerra, this day was more than just an interesting theme. It was a day dedicated to “a group of people that are deeply considered in the strike and one of the motivating factors for why we’re striking.”

It also was organized by a person of an age bracket the WGA says it is striking for. Tai Lyn Sandhu is a 16-year-old aspiring WGA member who is currently studying film at a performing arts school and who some day wants to go to film school. She originally proposed this picket idea as a way to ensure her own future.

“The difference is for me and my generation is that the negotiations now will effect us for the duration of our career,” Sandhu told TheWrap. “We don’t have people trained to be showrunners. So what is that going to mean in like 50 years from now?”

Instead of being taught to focus on her craft, Sandhu is being taught to be her own advocate. She’s also taken it upon herself to learn more technical parts of the industry like how to light and orchestrate sound design.

“For the first 20 years of my actual career in Hollywood, I will probably not be paid anything, so I need to have those technical skills,” Sandhu said. “It is draining because I would love to just sit down and work on a script for three hours a day. It’s just not realistic because I don’t even know where this script is going to go. There is no one to take it.”

One of the biggest barriers to entry when it comes to aspiring writers is said to be the existence of mini-rooms, a concept writer, director and actor Anya Jiménez nearly called an invention, before clarifying “I feel like that’s giving it too much respect.” Before the era of streaming and 10-episode seasons, writers rooms used to be composed of around seven to 10 writers and would last around 20 to 25 weeks. Because these rooms were creating 20-plus episode seasons, writers had more opportunities to learn from those above them and hone their skills.

Now this tried-and-true career ladder has been largely replaced by mini-rooms, which are typically composed of seven or fewer writers and only run 10 to 15 weeks. These rooms are especially used for limited series and “prestige” shows, a market Guerra is bound to as a genre writer.

“This is making it exponentially harder for young writers and early career writers to move up to get stable jobs to maintain a career in this industry,” Guerra told TheWrap. It’s also a trend Guerra says has been unfairly targeting writers of color, queer writers and women. Now that these marginalized creators have finally been allowed a space in Hollywood, the entry level jobs they would typically use to start their careers have been eliminated.

“Our industry, unfortunately, is gatekept in this particular way,” Guerra said. “Now that those doors are opening slightly, they’re getting slammed back in our faces by these sort of strange stipulations that keep the opportunities really small.”

Jiménez, who is an aspiring member of the WGA, has noticed this mini-room gatekeeping for diverse voices as well. “We are culture makers. The exclusion of writers and the lack of proper payment and the ability to make a living wage as a writer is directly preventing people from being able to see themselves in the media,” Jiménez told TheWrap.

Even getting that initial writing job doesn’t guarantee relief. “I worked on ‘The Other Two’ Season 3. I had that job from November of 2021 until April of 2022. And from then on, it became much harder for me to get my second staffing job,” Guerra revealed.

After his stint on the critically acclaimed Max series, Guerra had a meeting with a showrunner for a series he was “excited to work for.” But before he could be hired, the room moved from a standard-sized writing room to a mini-room, thereby cutting his job.

“So I got fired before I even got formerly hired. That’s happened to me, actually, twice,” Guerra said, noting that, due to selling a feature and his theater work he’s managed to hold onto “some semblance of a career.”

“But it’s been really hard. It’s been really hard in a way that feels like it shouldn’t be,” he said.

Even after a writer has managed to do the near impossible and “make it,” there are still frustrations more common around younger creators.

Take the “Broad City” creator and star Glazer, who says she has seen firsthand “the experience of working in this industry deteriorate very quickly due to unfair contracts.”

Glazer will be the first to acknowledge the “position of privilege” she and her co-creator and collaborator Abbi Jacobson are in by virtue of their successful careers. But there are still disparities. Because Glazer hasn’t seen many narratives on TV like hers, she actively acts, writes and produces work about “visibly queer, visibly Jew-y women who are angry, who are f–king brilliant.”

“Because I haven’t seen my story told, I do have to wear all the hats,” Glazer said. Even though she is a worker who brings a variety of skills to the table, “I have seen my contracts and deals squeeze me because of those talents.” This double-edged sword for multi-hyphenates is a trend Glazer has noticed among diverse creators such as herself, Jacobson and Issa Rae. She’s also noticed that the expectation of everyone becoming a multi-hyphenate is one that is heavily present for younger writers.

“You deserve to be compensated fairly for each and every one of those roles,” Glazer said. “Part of that squeeze is related to why writers in general are being dehumanized for their work, and it’s related to the dehumanization within the power structures of these companies, of this world.”

Glazer called staff writers’ lack of residuals “criminal” and called the AMPTP’s treatment of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA “insulting,” “dehumanizing” and “unprofitable.”

“Ever since the pandemic, audiences know how very important art and content is to make it through this very challenging world. For the five people who are all of a sudden in power of everybody and everything in this industry to erase that is wrong. But it’s also starkly psychotic and sadistic,” Glazer said.

She also connected the concerns of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA to all labor unions, from UPS and the teachers who worked during the pandemic to the nurses and doctors who didn’t have proper PPE in one of the cities most devastated by COVID-19. “The world hasn’t seen billions, trillions in power, and the people are figuring out a way to regulate it,” Glazer said. “That regulation is coming from the bottom, from the people, and the government. This will be regulated because this is unsustainable, and we’re not just — poof — going away. We’re not going to be murdered by a terrible script-writing robots.”

“Nobody wants to be f–king doing this right now on a summer day in the heat wave last week,” Glazer added. “But we are doing it because it is the steps that are necessary.”

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, click here.