AB 533 allows minors to keep their earnings when they work as Extras or "Background" players in motion pictures and television. The bill recognizes that the small pay checks for child performers who are Extras belong with them – not a bank or the Actors Fund.
Current law requires all employers of child performers to pay 15% of their earnings into a blocked trust bank account – known as a Coogan Account. Only the child can withdraw the funds from these accounts after they turn 18. However, when the accounts do not meet a minimum balance, banks charge fees which often leave the account – and the children – with no funds.
Minors who work as Extras only earn $64 dollars a day, and according to the Central Casting Agency (the largest casting agency in the world), most child actors who are Extras only work one or two times a year. They do not earn enough in a year to cover the minimum bank balance.
It is also common for families to abandon the money, after which it is deposited into the Actor's Fund of America – which maintains the "Unclaimed Coogan Trust Account.” According to the Actors Fund, there have been over thirty-six thousand deposits made into the Unclaimed Coogan Fund. Of those, 31,000 are less than $100.
For child actors who earn large sums as principal performers, the Coogan law provides needed and beneficial protection. However, for those who only work once or twice a year as an extra or background performer, this requirement is unnecessary and inefficient, and simply denies children their money.