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Inside an actor's life at a convention during the strike with Phil LaMarr

What is it like for an actor to appear at a convention during the actors strike? According to voice actor Phil LaMarr, not much has changed.

Phil LaMarr at Dragon Con 2023
Image credit: Popverse

The beloved animated comedy Futurama is back, and Phil LaMarr is reprising his role as Hermes Conrad. There’s just one problem – he isn’t allowed to talk about it. On July 14, 2023, the Screen Actors Guild began striking, hoping to achieve fair pay and better working conditions. The rules of the strike state that members of the Screen Actors Guild cannot promote any studio work, whether it be past, present or future.

This presents an interesting situation for actors who appear at fan conventions. The ongoing strike forced San Diego Comic-Con to cancel some of their panel plans. Upcoming conventions, like New York City Comic Con, are currently looking to 'get creative' with their celebrity panels.

Some actors rely on the convention circuit for income between jobs, and as the strike continues, that has become more important than ever. But how does an actor navigate conventions while still following the rules of the strike? According to prolific voice actor Phil LaMarr, it’s not that hard. Phil LaMarr is a voice actor best known for his role as Green Lantern in the Justice League animated series, Hermes Conrad in Futurama, the title character in Samurai Jack, and more. If you take a look at his acting credits, there’s a high chance he had a role on one of your childhood shows.

Popverse had a chance to attend a press session with LaMarr during Dragon Con 2023. During the press session, we asked LaMarr about his experience with conventions during the strike.

“The union understands that we want to show appreciation for our audiences,” LaMarr answered. “The union said ‘Okay, it’s fine for you to promote yourself, just don’t promote these companies that we’re striking against.’ The concept of promotion is a pretty blurry concept. Is a YouTube video promotion? You know a commercial is, but if it goes viral, then the YouTube video is. We all are part of the union, and the union has been really great about giving us structure. You can promote yourself, and your past, and still show your affection for your fans. So, we’re still able to go to conventions.”

LaMarr was asked about how the strike has changed his convention experience, and according to him, it’s been largely the same. “Honestly, it’s not that different of an experience at conventions. Most of the time it’s rooted in nostalgia. People want to know about the past, and the people we worked with. Nobody is ever asking questions like the Hollywood Reporter,’ LaMarr said.

To illustrate the point, Lemar pretended to be an aggressive reporter and barked “When is the next thing and what’s the date?!” This caused the room to erupt in laughter. “Fans are asking about the things that touch their heart, like working with Billy West,” LaMarr said, continuing his point.

The remainder of the press session was filled with stories about his time as a student at Yale University, and his favorite improv memories. We may not have been able to talk about the Futurama revival, but that’s okay. The strike may have paused promotion of studio work, but it hasn’t stopped actors from having meaningful interactions with fans. And isn’t that what conventions are all about?

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