Actors Access, a Top Casting Site, Hit With Class Action Lawsuit

Actors Access, the leading online platform for film and TV casting, was hit with a class action lawsuit on Wednesday, alleging that it illegally charges performers for access to auditions.

The lawsuit, filed in L.A. Superior Court, accuses the platform of predatory conduct, and of charging working actors hundreds of dollars a year for upgrades that they hope will get them noticed.

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“By exploiting actors’ desire to live out their dreams, Defendant has inserted itself between actors and casting directors, forcing hardworking actors into paying for the opportunity to apply for a job,” the lawsuit alleges.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Ryan Clarkson, filed a similar lawsuit last week against Casting Networks, a major site in the world of commercial casting. Both lawsuits accuse the platforms of operating “pay-to-play” systems in violation of California labor law.

In a statement, Clarkson said he received an “outpour of support” after filing the Casting Networks lawsuit, prompting him to go after Actors Access as well.

“Actors Access, a massive Hollywood institution that even predates the internet, is guilty of the same
deception – scamming actors and taking advantage of their career dreams,” he said. “It is time that they
are held accountable.”

Both sites have a free tier as well as a paid subscription tier, which offers more features. On Actors Access, the paid tier costs $10 a month or $68 per year. The site charges $2 per submission to those who do not pay for a subscription, while paid subscribers get “unlimited” submissions.

The lawsuit alleges that the “unlimited” submissions claim is misleading, however, because actors with paid subscriptions must pay additional fees to upload media tailored to each job.

According to the suit, actors who upload more media to their profile rank higher in the sorting algorithm used to display candidates to casting directors.

“Thus, even for those actors able to pay their way onto the platform, a significant casting factor becomes have they paid enough,” the suit states. “The resultant financial strain and the emotional distress from navigating this pay-to-play system have diminished the fair chance of talent discovery, effectively prioritizing those who can afford to pay over equally or more talented individuals facing financial constraints.”

SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, sought to address this issue during last year’s negotiation with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The contract precludes studios from using sites that give preferential treatment to actors with paid subscriptions.

Actors Access is operated by Breakdown Services, which claims that over 97% of scripted productions in North America use its casting services. Casting sites have taken on greater importance as much of casting has transitioned to “self-taping,” a trend that accelerated due to the pandemic.

Instead of meeting in person at a casting office, actors will film their own audition tape and upload it to the site.

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