Hollywood’s Great Depression: Meet the Entertainment Workers Left Jobless by the Coronavirus Pandemic
Mac Brandt was one of the lucky ones.
For the past six years, he’s made a living purely from acting, appearing in television shows like “Kingdom” and “Arrested Development,” and scrounging up enough jobs to pay the bills without having to tend bar or wait tables. But life changed drastically for Brandt and much of the entertainment industry in March, when work ground to a halt as the coronavirus swept across the country. Movie theaters have gone dark, soundstages have shut their doors and productions have been delayed indefinitely, leaving tens of thousands of people like Brandt jobless and forced to navigate a grim economic landscape.
“I was on ‘Station 19’ the other night and people must be going, ‘Oh this guy’s on TV; he must make a lot of money,” says Brandt. “But it’s a working-class industry. You have to string together enough work and keep auditioning in order to keep going. I can’t do that with everything shut down.”
In the meantime, Brandt has filed for unemployment and obtained deferrals on his mortgage and car lease payments. He’s going to refrain from paying off his credit cards, so he’ll have enough money to buy essentials. And he’s waiting for a $1,200 stimulus check from the federal government.
“If I paid all my bills, I wouldn’t have money for groceries,” says the 39-year-old actor. “So you prioritize. I’ve got two young kids, and the other night I was freaking out and thinking maybe I should get a job at Amazon.”