YouTube sensation Dhar Mann is coming under fire for underpaying his employees.
Several actors working under his studio recently took to both TikTok and to the streets to protest against the allegedly unacceptable working conditions.
Who is Dhar Mann?
Dhar is a successful YouTuber with over 15 million subscribers, who is most well-known for the inspirational short films he posts on his channel every week. The videos are dedicated to tackling thought-provoking moral issues and feature shocking titles like ‘Evil Stepmom Kicks Out Daughter, She Lives To Regret It’ and ‘Girl Denies Roommate Based On Her Looks, Instantly Regrets It.’
He owns and manages a video production company known as Dhar Mann Studios, where he contracts over 50 actors and production staff to create his videos.
Actors go on strike
Earlier this week, actors working for the production company protested in the streets over their working conditions. Mair Mulroney, an actress who has been with Dhar Mann since the beginning, shared video footage of the protest to her TikTok.
“Dhar Mann never talks to anyone, he silently fires people and doesn’t pay anyone what they’re worth,” actor, director, and writer Colin A. Borden said in her video about why he was protesting.
Colin then posted an explainer on his TikTok to bring more context to the situation.
He explained that he and all the other actors who work with the studio are hired as “contract players, and only brought in every now and then” to star in Dhar’s short films. As a result, “none of them have a regular income” and therefore none of them can currently afford things like rent. Actors can generally appear from 10 to 50 videos, if not more.
Colin added that even as the studio grew more successful, the actors allegedly reaped no reward. He claimed they were constantly reminded that if they spoke up about their poor working conditions they would be fired. As a result, they decided to send a letter to Dhar that detailed their concerns and requested a meeting with him. Initially, the human resources department of Dhar Mann Studios apparently appeared enthusiastic about a meeting. But after months of ‘schedule conflicts’, the HR department “was clear that there would be no meeting.”
On the 8th of February, in response to being ignored, many actors from the studio decided to protest outside its headquarters in Los Angeles in order for their concerns to be heard.
The protests continued for six days and the #ProtestDharMann currently has 112.3 million views on TikTok at the time of writing.
Dhar Mann responds
It seems that Dhar definitely heard their complaints as the actors who protested claimed their boss called the police on their gathering. Police that arrived at the scene apparently determined that no laws were being violated and the lawful protest continued.
On February 14th Dhar took to his Instagram to address the situation.
He said that he was unaware the protestors wanted to meet with him personally. Dhar claimed that allegations he paid actors low wages were “100% not true” and said his studio currently pays actors between $33 and $44 per hour for speaking roles.
“While I’m taking the steps to stop the spread of misinformation, I do acknowledge that there’s always opportunity for growth,” Dhar wrote on Instagram. “So today in my meeting with actors we came up with ways to improve things such as a more efficient bookings system, stronger communication, and more consistent hours and pay.”
Some of his regular actors have also posted videos defending Dhar and sharing their positive experiences working for him.
The actors announce their ‘win’
In a press conference held on the 14th of February, the protestors revealed that on day two of the protest, two actors, Michael Bucarro and Jessica Ruth Bell, were contacted by Dhar Mann Studios to let them know “they would no longer be needed for their episodes,” which Colin claimed is, “an evident retaliation against them for exercising their first amendment rights.”
The press conference also revealed that there have been promises of change made within the studio. “We won!” exclaimed Colin, “Yesterday Dhar Mann himself met with a small contingency of actors who have publicly professed their loyalty to the ‘Mann’, the company, and their current practices. Promises were made at that meeting that changes were coming.”
Although no specific changes were mentioned in the press conference, Colin said, “This is from the beginning all that we have wanted, all that we have asked for.”
“We stepped outside, risking it all so that those inside could thrive. Hopefully [shined] a light on certain mistreatments and patterns of behaviour in not just our former studio, but given voice and legitimacy to the unchecked frontier of scripted new media content.”
In the press conference, fellow actor Dylan J Harris warned that new media is the way the industry is heading and it is imperative we protect those involved moving forward.
“I’d argue that more people have seen YouTube’s videos than they’ve seen anyone streaming platform’s videos. So if you have the money to produce equity-level projects, you need to be held to equity-level standards,” said Michael.
The actors hope to see future legislation from the State of California, as well as social media platforms that will help protect actors as the industry moves in a new direction.