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How the Threat of Production Boycotts is Affecting Actors in Atlanta

With threats from industry giants to pull productions from Georgia if the so-called “heartbeat abortion bill” goes into effect next year, actors there are left in a precarious position. You may be an actor outside of Georgia who often works as an Atlanta local hire, or maybe you’re just interested in what’s happening to your actor comrades in the south. To find out more, check out the following interviews with two Atlanta-based actors. Casting Networks spoke with them on how the threat of boycotts is currently affecting their market and what they plan to do should companies end up pulling productions from Georgia next year.   
Bonita Elery 
Known for “Queen Sugar” and “Stargirl” 
So far I haven’t experienced anything personally that has to do with any of the stuff that they’re talking about. It’s only just been talk … I think I can speak for all my actor friends, too. Like nobody that I know of personally has felt anything or has at this point been worried. I think it’s just been a topic of conversation. Because you know, it’s in our industry, and it’s out there, so people are talking about it. But I don’t think that it’s affected any of us yet. I’ve been blessed that I’m signed with a really, really great agency, so I am auditioning all the time … I haven’t felt anything like that [a slowdown].
We [actors] have a thick skin. Companies can come and go, but you’re always going to have your talent. They can’t take away your talent … I mean, I feel like if companies did pull out, of course that would mean that there would be less work for actors in the southeast market. But we’re still actors, and we’ll just go other places and continue to act. It won’t be the end of the world. It might just be a slower process. But we’re used to that. Because we’re used to not knowing. That’s what we signed up for when we decided to pursue what we love to do … We just keep going no matter what, and that’s the great thing about what it is that we do … You know, we put in the hard work, and it’ll all come to fruition, regardless of the bill.
TJ Jackson
Known for “American Soul” and “Star” 
Typically the summer time is slower anyhow. You know, as far as casting and breakdowns and productions … So I don’t know if right now we’re really seeing the effects of it [the threat of boycotts]. I think we may have a better idea come fall, and then of course with pilot season the following year. But as of right now, I do not think it’s hurt us or affected us in a negative way. If anything, it could potentially drum up interest and get people talking about the Atlanta market.
And nothing changes if studios begin to pull their resources or their projects elsewhere because there are still going to be breakdowns. There are still going to be castings … For me, nothing changes; I still march forward. If my overall goal is to eventually move to LA in three years, well then that still is the goal … We have a great community here still. We hear that often from people who come from different markets. We still have a small circle, if you will. Everyone kind of knows each other. So reach out to your other fellow creatives and create … Create your own project. Create your own work and you create work for others.
As Elery and Jackson tell us, they haven’t felt many effects from the threat of boycotts so far. Jackson says that any slowdown with auditioning is normal to this time, in between pilot and episodic seasons. And both actors have hope for the future of their careers, regardless of if companies like Netflix and Disney end up pulling productions from Georgia. As Elery says it, “We put in the hard work, and it’ll all come to fruition, regardless of the bill.”