‘Treated like garbage’: Dolly De Leon calls for pay raise for background actors

February 2, 2023 - 4:37 PM
Dolly de Leon
Dolly de Leon as Abigail in the 2022 film "Triangle of Sadness" as seen in a screenshot of the trailer released by NEON on YouTube on Aug. 10, 2022. (Screenshot from YouTube/NEON)

Amid the spotlight on award-winning actress Dolly De Leon, she raised welfare concerns for background actors. 

In a magazine interview, Dolly demanded pay raise and better treatment for these talents.

“The talents or extras get as little as P 500 per day, and they are made to wait out in the sun with cardboard boxes as chairs. They get treated like garbage,” she said in a magazine interview

“That needs to change. Big corporations have the budget to pay their big stars, so why don’t they have the budget to pay the background actors?” the actress continued. 

RELATED: Foreign film critics disappointed over Dolly de Leon Oscar snub

Other background actors

Dolly’s call also prompted others to ask for a similar request from production houses and companies. Some also shared their experience as film extras. 

“True kala mo basura turing sa mga background talents. Take note filming always takes at least 10-12 hours pagmalas more than 15 hours tas ang sahod 500 to 700 pesos with no proper waiting room or area,” an online user wrote

A social media user said that she was discouraged from pursuing a career in film because of the poor working conditions. 

“Aa remember those days [I was] completely discouraged me from pursuing the big screen but they say part yun ng process to be an actor talaga…unfortunately,” she wrote

Radio DJ and multimedia host Debbie Then, who used to be a background actor, also attested to the poor working conditions and low pay for extras in films. 

“I can verify. One of my first gigs upon moving to the Ph[ilippines] was an extra on a teen show. They laid out cardboards on the school courtyard we shot at and I was made to sit for a full 24 hours under the sun and in the cold at night. The other extras knew cause they brought blankets,” the content creator said

Debbie said that while the main cast members enjoy buffet catering, the background actors were given siopao, hotdogs, and packed food.

She also bared that she was only paid P600 after spending a whole day in the set. 

“Opening up my talent fee envelope on the taxi ride home from QC (Quezon City) to my dorm in Pasay, I realized that most of my tf [talent fee] was going to this cab. I was too tired to take the train home, I thought I deserved a taxi ride cause I was falling over with exhaustion. I cried all the way home,” Debbie said. 

However, Debbie said that this was not always the case as she experienced another work with better pay and treatment. She, however, stopped doing work as a background actor. 

Given her experiences, Debbie said that she realized that nobody is speaking up against the practices in Philippine entertainment because they’ve normalized it. 

This is why some social media users appreciated that Dolly spoke up about relevant issues in the Philippine entertainment industry.

“I love how the minute she got the spotlight and relevance, she quickly called out everything wrong in the industry,” a Twitter user wrote
Movie, TV industry guidelines on working conditions

Based on an advisory released by the Department of Labor and Employment in 2016, “waiting time spent by a worker/talent shall be considered as working time if he/she is required or engaged to wait.”

The advisory also stressed that the workers and talents should be given safe, adequate, and free lodging and/or accommodation. 

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