Dan Benson, who famously portrayed Zeke Beakerman on the Disney Channel hit sitcom “Wizards Of Waverly Place,” stepped away from acting several years ago. Now, with a burgeoning digital presence on TikTok, Benson is explaining the reasoning behind his career pivot.
Like a number of actors have revealed amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, Benson made a limited amount of money off of residuals from the hit show in the years following its release. His financial security was so limited that he recounted struggling to afford prescription food for his dog.
Benson has since pivoted to working in the adult entertainment industry on OnlyFans, which he expressed has paid him a much more viable living wage. The drastic career change continues to turn heads on social media, and is furthering the conversation surrounding the pay for actors amid the strike.
Despite his career pivot, the former actor continues to support his former co-stars from afar, reposting episodes of former “Wizards” stars David DeLuise and Jennifer Stone’s podcast, which details their time on the show. Benson’s cast mates are yet to speak on the former actor’s pivot to adult entertainment. Stone, who played the creative fashion icon Harper Finkle on the show, has since become a nurse.
Why The Unions Went On Strike
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) represents thousands of screenwriters behind some of television and film’s biggest hits. May 2023 began a complete strike from countless writers nationwide, beginning with major productions in New York City and Los Angeles. The last WGA strike took place between 2007 and 2008, and impacted countless major television programs at the time.
The recent strike is a result of a rapid pay decrease by 23% since the pandemic, as a result of both inflation and streaming services running shorter seasons. Additionally, several guild members revealed that their respective workplaces refused to impose regulations on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the writer’s room. Some tech entrepreneurs insist that AI can replace several types of writing careers, and writers fought back. This union reached a deal with the AMPTP in September.
Months after the WGA went on strike, SAG-AFTRA joined them. The era of streaming services for television and film has not only changed the viewing experience for consumers, but the pay for actors, writers, directors, and crew members. SAG-AFTRA supports all of the WGA’s demands, and have several of their own. Actor turned U.S. President Ronald Reagan led the first joint SAG-AFTRA WGA strike in 1960.
Among the SAG-AFTRA demands are increased minimum pay rates, increased streaming residuals to match the rising inflation costs, and improved working conditions. Previously, many could rely on royalty payments from reruns. For streamers, this is no longer the case. Additionally, several major studios proposed the use of AI renderings of actors that are available for free use even after an actor’s death without the consent of the actors or their families.
Benson has loosely expressed support for the strike, but will likely not actively picket due to his change in careers.