Pablo Azar understands the highs of acting in telenovelas.
The 34-year-old from Mexico has appeared in Reina de Corazones and Bella Calamidade, and he has amassed a large number of fans. But when he’s not on camera, Azar earns his money like other up-and-coming actors. He drives for Uber to make ends meet. “At first, I was ashamed of this,” Azar told the New York Times, “Our fans from Latin America who watch novelas, they think we are millionaires and that we drive Ferraris and live in Beverly Hills.” Azar’s story is not unique either. When they are between jobs, those who act for Telemundo are often out scrambling to pay rent.
“In telenovelas,” Katie Barberi told the New York Times, “they can kill your character off in the middle of the shoot and you are paid that day, and it’s over.”
Most actors who work for Telemundo, the Miami-based Spanish-language network owned by NBCUniversal, do not fall under the protection of SAG-Aftra, the television industry’s union. Because the shows are in Spanish, Telemundo has been able to argue that their programming does not meet the union’s requirements. So far this loophole has worked to Telemundo’s benefit, keeping the network exempt from the costs of employee-related health insurance, potential residuals, or to cover any accident on set, which is not an uncommon experience. The company and the unions are currently in talks, but what happens next remains to be seen. For more coverage out the entire story at the New York Times.