Taking a stand: Valley actor takes part in Global SAG-AFTRA Strike

Photo Khetphet Phagnasay

July 31, 2023 – Ever since disagreements sparked between the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and executives with various Hollywood film studios, productions of your favorite television programming and films have frozen.

Actors and writers are standing together on strike until a deal can be struck that both the union and studios are willing to agree on.

Khetphet, or KP, Phagnasay is one of the many actors who are affected by the contract negotiations. Phagnasay stands with SAG-AFTRA and believes in the mission of the strike.

“There’s only one or two percent of actors that have been doing really well, like big movie stars,” said Phagnasay. “But I’m one of the 98 percent of actors that work project to project and sometimes we don’t make a lot. We rely on residuals to help us through some rough times…”

Phagnasay was born in Laos and eventually moved to the Clovis area. He attended Clovis High School, which is where he began to grow his passion for acting through drama classes and participating in theater productions.

After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from Fresno State, Phagnasay went on to achieve roles in many Theatre productions and films. He recently starred in the Netflix series, “Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.”

Phagnasay said he was recently in Prague working on a new project under a major film studio when news broke of the strike. Production of the project had halted and left Phagnasay and his co-works wondering what to do.

Upon returning back to the United States, Phagnasay traveled to Hollywood where he stood with his fellow union members and picketed outside film studios such as Paramount and Netflix. There he connected with others in his same position and even caught glimpses of famous celebrities such as Annette Benning picket for the cause.

“It was really needed for us to get together and band together and be in solidarity across the country to tell the studios to give us our equal share. We came together like a big family…the energy is high. We have such great collaboration and togetherness in having our voices heard.”

According to Phagnasay, it is the first time in history a strike of this magnitude has taken place with actors and writers taking a stand together hand in hand against the film studios. The purpose of the strike is to demand fair compensation and seal in job protection guidelines within contracts.

“We all hope it comes to a resolution soon, so that we can all get back to work.The longer we have this happen, the more we lose money, and the more we’re financially hit. My hope is that SAG-AFTRA and the studios sit down and hash it out and go back to the negotiating table.”

Until the strike ends, Phagnasay and other members of SAG-AFTRA are to deny any activity or promotion of studio film or television projects. To continue his career and support himself, the valley actor will work on independent projects and commercials as the strike continues.

Phagnasay also works out of a studio in the Fresno area as an acting coach, helping others with the acting bug develop their career paths. He wants people in the valley to know even though it may be difficult, it is possible to attain a career in the entertainment industry.

“I’m a working actor. Not living in LA, not living in New York, but living in Fresno…I can say there are very few central valley actors that are working and making a living as professional actors. So it’s really rare. I never gave up my career. I pursued and continued on and it just took time. I encourage people not to give up on their dreams. If it’s something you want to do, you gotta put the work in. You can live in the Central Valley and still be a working actor. Even with the strike or events that go on, your time will come.”

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Nikki is a Fresno resident and a graduate of Fresno State University, with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Media Communications and Journalism. Nikki spent some time as a staff reporter at the Fresno State Collegian Newspaper, and now currently works part time at the KFSN-TV station in Fresno. She enjoys local community events, arts and entertainment, and crime news.