Kendrick Sampson Hits the Picket Lines for the ‘Future’ of Black People’s Narratives in Hollywood (Video)

“I’m one of the more privileged Black actors and I’m still struggling to pay my bills,” the “Something from Tiffany’s” actor tells TheWrap

Kendrick Sampson (Photo credit: Raquel "Rocky" Harris)
Kendrick Sampson (Photo credit: Raquel "Rocky" Harris)

Kendrick Sampson (“Something from Tiffany’s”) joined his fellow SAG-AFTRA members at the Netflix picket lines, but his participation wasn’t just to support the mission of striking actors, but it was also to show up for marginalized communities and the future of Black people’s narratives in Hollywood. 

“We’re out here protesting not just for our extracurricular activities and some bougie pastime, we’re out here protesting for the future, for marginalized folks, Black folks,” Sampson said. “We’re out here protesting for the future of our narratives, the future of out stories, the health of our communities.”

On Thursday, over two dozen actors took the streets in front of Netflix’s Hollywood building following SAG-AFTRA’s unanimous decision to go on strike after failed conversations over a new contract. Among the strikers was Sampson, who told TheWrap that he was overjoyed with SAG-AFTRA’s move to hit the picket lines, mentioning that the strike will ultimately impact unionization efforts across the country.

“I’m glad that actors overwhelmingly approved a better future…the tactics that will get us a better future, which is protesting and striking, making sure that we make our voice heard with the rest of the sectors,” Sampson said. “All of the other sectors that are striking. From the UPS, Teamsters, hotel workers walking out, fast food — so many people are saying that they are fed up with [companies] hoarding profits and not letting us participate in a way that can actually pay our bills month to month.”

Per a U.S. News report, actors made a median salary of $46,960 in 2021. The best-paid actors, who make up 25% of SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 members, made $60,000 while the lowest paid (25%) had an income of $30,040. Per a statewide study conducted by The California Department of Housing and Community Development, which was released in June, a single person in Los Angeles (the entertainment industry capital of the world) with an income of $70,000, is considered “low-income.”

On top of fighting for SAG-AFTRA members’ rights, Sampson said he’s also showing up for future of marginalized communities, their livelihoods and their narratives. 

“I’m one of the most privileged,” Sampson said. “I don’t think people know that 90% of actors are unemployed and most of them are below the poverty line, the overwhelming majority. I’m one of the more privileged Black actors and I’m still struggling to pay my bills. Imagine what others who have far less, who have far less experience [and] credits on their resume, whatever, and far less money and resources. Like, people in my family that I’m fighting for, that I’m out here doing this to try to change the future for them, a better future for them.”

This is now day five of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which started on Friday. And this is day 79 for the WGA strike, which began on May 2.