Writer On Strike Was ‘Broke’ And ‘On Medicaid’ While Working On Award-Winning Series ‘The Bear’

Writer On Strike Was ‘Broke’ And ‘On Medicaid’ While Working On Award-Winning Series ‘The Bear’

One writer taking part in the Writers Guild of America strike is shedding light on the extremely low pay he received while working on the award-winning series The Bear.

WGA members have been on strike since Monday, May 1, the same day their contracts expired, Business Insider reports. The members are seeking better pay and regulation on the use of AI that’s been replacing writers, among other demands.

Amid the strike, which has caused closures of late-night talk shows and more, a writer for FX’s award-winning series The Bear shared his story of being “broke” and “on Medicaid” while working on the acclaimed show.

“Working as a staff writer, I was still broke, still on Medicaid. The studio wouldn’t fly me out to the writers room in LA, so I worked from my Brooklyn apartment,” he shared in a Twitter thread last month.

“My heat was out that pandemic winter; my space heater blew out the lights. I worked on episode 8 from a library.”


“All I can say about Hollywood is this: all that glitters is not gold,” he continued. “I won the lottery, and landed a gig on a low-budget show that became a national sensation. The Bear was a gift, but in the end, The Bear was a gig. And between gigs, I barely survive.”

When The Bear was nominated for Best Comedy Series at the Writers Guild of America Awards in March, O’ Keefe attended the ceremony with a negative bank account and purchased his suited fit using credit.

Now, as O’Keefe joins other WGA members in striking for better pay, the former speechwriter for Sen. Elizabeth Warren is looking for jobs at movie theaters to get by.

“It’s a very regular-degular, working-class existence,” O’ Keefe told The New Yorker.

WGA members seek better compensation and residual rates or pay for reusing a writer’s work. It comes in response to streaming services offering lower residual rates than traditional broadcasting outlets on shows that they might cancel and wipe from their libraries.

Other concerns include “mini rooms,” where studios craft an entire script using fewer writers before having a show greenlit. As well as the use of artificial intelligence to produce material.

Now, 98% of WGA members are striking after a deal was not struck between the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) by their contract’s May 1 expiration date.

“Writers are facing the most comprehensive assault on compensation and working conditions that we have seen in a generation,” WGA said in a statement.

“In this negotiation, we are fighting for a contract that increases writer pay and makes writing a sustainable career again. When the studios invest millions into producing a certain film or series, they can find it in their budgets to pay us for the value we create.”