With A New Rule, One Hollywood Union Hopes To Make Auditions Safer For Actors

Another big change in the Time's Up era.

SAG-AFTRA is saying "time's up" to the casting couch. The union, which is a merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, has updated its code of conduct to ban auditions and other professional meetings from taking place in hotel rooms or private residences.

The union first announced its "Four Pillars of Change" to stop sexual harassment this February, with the slogan "STOP. SUPPORT. REPORT." This new provision, called "Code of Conduct Guideline No. 1," seeks to prevent the types of inappropriate or dangerous encounters described by a number of actresses who met in private with producer Harvey Weinstein.

"We call on producers and other decision makers with influence or control over decisions that can impact a career, to STOP holding professional meetings in these high-risk locations and find alternative, appropriate locations for professional meetings," the new guideline reads.

Actors and their representatives are also discouraged from accepting meetings in these locations, or to take a "support peer" with them in the "unlikely event" that a more appropriate environment is unavailable. Members are asked to "REPORT any abuse of SAG-AFTRA contract provisions and any time that you feel unsafe as a result of being required to hold a professional meeting in these high-risk locations."

"We are committed to addressing the scenario that has allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting," SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said of the new rule, according to Deadline.

In recent months, the sexual abuse problem in Hollywood has been a hot-button issue, thanks to campaigns such as #MeToo and Time's Up, as well as the brave women and men who have come forward with their stories. These conversations have drawn attention to the decades-old "casting couch" problem in Hollywood — where those in powerful positions demand sexual favors in exchange for career advancement. Many of these alleged encounters shared a common thread of taking place outside of professional settings, such as in private hotel rooms.

In a statement, Anita Hill, chair of the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, praised SAG-AFTRA for its new guideline. "This is exactly the kind of action the Commission encourages as part of our ongoing effort to introduce systemic changes that create safer, fairer and more equitable workspaces throughout the industry," Hill said, via Deadline.

Cover image: Seasontime / Shutterstock.com

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