SAG-AFTRA’s national board, at a contentious meeting tonight, passed a resolution to form a task force to “investigate and address” issues involving “paint-downs” and “wigging.” The motion was brought to the board by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris.
The move, which was opposed by five stunt performers serving on the board, comes after dozens of stuntmen and women signed a letter sent Sept. 30 to the leadership of SAG-AFTRA calling for an end to “wigging” – the age-old practice of putting wigs and dresses on stuntmen so they can double for actresses – and “paint-downs,” in which dark make-up is applied to white stunt performers so that they can double for actors of color.
The resolution was opposed on procedural grounds by many members of the union’s main opposition group, Membership First, and by all five stunt performers serving on the board, who argued that safety should always be the first priority, and that the resolution could tie the hands of stunt coordinators in their hiring decisions, which could lead to more on-set accidents and injuries. “Every stunt person on the national board voted against it,” said board member and stuntman Peter Antico. “This referendum was not on the agenda, and they wasted three hours of the meeting giving us hearsay without any substantiation evidence of anything that they were saying. The stunt community is against racist practices and paint downs, but safety must always come before diversity. We proposed an amendment to include all stunt people on the Task Force who serve on the local and national boards, and it was turned down by people who know nothing about the stunt business.”
“Most of Membership First abstained,” said a source familiar with last night’s meeting. “The reason why was for process reasons. Everyone in Membership First is against paint downs and wigging. They find the process abhorrent. The problem was that Gabrielle never consulted any of the stunt people on the board. That’s why they’re there, because there are other issues at play – mainly safety. We have to find a way for everyone to have fair and equal access to work. Membership First didn’t want to block the Task Force, but they’re sick and tired of Gabrielle excluding certain people for political expediency.”