Several “Rupaul’s Drag Race” alum confirm that they will not be compensated extra money for the lengthy 90-minute episodes of the show’s 15th season on Paramount+. WOW, MTV, and Paramount+ are all respectively involved with the production. Talent agents who represent several of the queens from the ongoing season confirmed the information to PopCrave.
Talent agents of #DragRace alum tell Pop Crave that the queens of Season 15 have not been paid any additional funds for the full 90-minute episodes coming to Paramount+ on August 9.
The contestants allegedly did not find out about the streamer’s decision to release the 90-minute… pic.twitter.com/gDLYso1aQ3
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) July 28, 2023
The lack of residual payments have many fans of the show encouraging the queens to unionize and go on strike. There are several obstacles when it comes a drag queen union. As of now, the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) represents a number of stage performers, and several drag queens from across the country are a part of it. However, given the vast practices of drag that range from Las Vegas residencies to local bars to “Rupaul’s Drag Race”, it would be difficult to consolidate all of the performers into one union.
Social Media Reactions
Many are already vowing to boycott the upcoming episodes of the show in honor of the queen’s needs.
we will not be watching.
— Jawn (@Jawnxwick) July 28, 2023
Others question how competitive reality show contracts differ from those of other streaming programs.
I’m confused, are they supposed to get additional pay for the extended episodes/the episodes going to streaming in general? I thought they got paid during filming and that was it- pic.twitter.com/ywL08j1k9F
— Sam (@samcifone) July 28, 2023
I’m confuzzled don’t they get paid for being there per episode not episode length?
— Brandon (@BrandonU22) July 28, 2023
Others continue to call for the queens to unionize.
I hope drag queens unionize
— jojoscircuses (@jojoscircuses) July 28, 2023
Elsewhere, some related the situation to negative experiences with other networks that operate on a similar model.
The networks point to the production companies, and the production companies don’t answer the phone once they’re done with you! @FoodNetwork and triangle productions don’t pay their contracts!
— Philip (@ScratchCatering) July 28, 2023
Others argued that the source did not provide the details of the initial contract that the queens received. One Twitter user felt that everyone simply needed to read the fine print.
Well… you do sign a contract before you audition that covers this…
— Meatball (@fatdragmeatball) July 28, 2023
What A Drag Queen Strike Could Mean For The Industry
Amid the ongoing joint WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike, the only entertainment affiliated union to strike a deal has been the Director’s Guild of America (the DGA). IATSE, which represents a number of stage and film crew workers ranging from makeup and wardrobe artists to set designers, currently has several regional cohorts of the union on strike as well. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA remain on strike for a number of reasons, but predominantly due to the lack of residuals paid to actors in direct-to-streaming films and television shows.
Additionally, several major studios expressed intent to replace writers, editors, and even actors with AI (Artificial Intelligence) versions of themselves. As the strike drags out, streamers will begin to have less programs waiting in the wings for release, and begin to rely on reality television programming that is unscripted.
Should the queens of “Rupaul’s Drag Race” unionize, they could find themselves joining forces with the contestants on several other competition based reality television programs. Bethenny Frankel of “Real Housewives of New York City,” spoke out about the need for a strike for this group.
'Real Housewives' alum Bethenny Frankel says reality TV stars should strike: 'We've always been the losers' https://t.co/cz1QEBi67W
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) July 20, 2023
Other former reality stars are coming out in agreement with a unionization effort.
— Cydney Yeates (@cydneyyeates) July 26, 2023
If the other two strikes drag on to this point, a reality television strike could result in a near total blackout of the entertainment industry. Paramount is yet to comment on their role in a potential reality television strike.