Just months after the WGA Strike commenced as an effort for Hollywood’s writers to get better benefits and pay, the actors are now doing the same. For weeks, SAG-AFTRA members have been deliberating and now, the strike has begun. Many Black actors have spoken out in support of the strike as Hollywood is facing an indefinite halt.
Background On The SAG-AFTRA Strike
SAG-AFTRA has been going through a month of tense negotiations with the major Hollywood studios, to have their demands met by the July 12 deadline. Once the deadline was reached and no progress was made, the union’s negotiating committee unanimously recommended a vote by its national board to call a strike. SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher appeared at a press conference July 13, where the strike was officially announced.
“The eyes of the world and, particularly, the eyes of labor are upon us,” Drescher said. “What happens to us is important. What’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor. When employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors who make the machine run, we have a problem.”
SAG-AFTRA’s Black Precense
Many actors all across Hollywood have used their platforms to share the message of the strike online. The issues that the union has with Hollywood execs apply to actors from all over the nation. A majority of actors all want the same thing: fair pay in a rapidly changing climate.
Many popular Black actors have spoken out about the strike. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Dominique Fishback who played the lead in Prime TV’s “Swarm” says actors deserve fair pay.
“I think that all artists deserve to be fairly compensated and respected for the hard work that they do. We go do projects and leave our family and friends, sometimes for months at a time. You spend hours on set, and it affects your personal life. I wouldn’t trade it at all; I love what I do, and there are other ways to make artists feel respected and appreciated. I’m in such a place of not trying to control things that I can’t control. Today is really just about the celebration and living in the moment-by-moment, and whatever happens with the strike happens, and whatever is meant to be will be,” Fishback said.
Yvette Nicole Brown
Actress Yvette Nicole Brown not only used twitter to show support for the strike, she also joined the picket line. On July 14, Brown joined SAG-AFTRA and WGA members as they walk the picket line at Warner Bros. Studios. On social media the actress took time to explain why the strike is important to working actors that don’t get the same attention as superstars.
“Most actors make less than $26,000 a year. Realize that. You may see more well-known faces speaking up. But the fight is for the actors who can’t speak up. #UnionStrong,” Brown wrote.
Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson shared her thoughts as well. The actress says her concern is artificial intelligence (AI) when it comes to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
“I’m really concerned about this AI movement. [I saw a video] on social media where Nicki Minaj’s whole likeness was used. Oh my God, have we come to this point? I mean, you hear about it, you read about it, but once you actually see it happening, that’s when it’s like, we have a really big problem here,” she explained.
Henson says she is ready for the fight ahead but also recognized that she, unlike many actors, is in a position where a strike is truly possible financially.
“What concerns me is the actors who may not be as financially stable as I am. My heart goes out to the writers, people just want to work in this economy. You know, people just want to work. And I just hate that. It’s all greed. Greed will be the end of humanity. You can’t just steal humans’ likenesses; you can’t do all of this work that you do as an artist for some computer to generate you. It’s just it’s not fair,” Henson said.
Even Niecey Nash shared her thoughts on the SAG-AFTRA strike.
“You gotta eat the elephant one bite at a time. Today, we celebrate, and tomorrow is another day. We wanna make sure that everybody is [working] under a contract that they feel good about. I just hope that all hearts and minds agree and get to it sooner rather than later.”
TV personality, Bevy Smith also spoke out about the SAG-AFTRA strike, sharing how she’s already lost out on an opportunity due to it. In a tweet, she shared the news.
“I just lost my first 5 figure gig due to the @sagaftra strike,” she explained. “I’m gagging but it’s necessary, my dad was a Union man I know that loss of income is a real thing & many of us will lose money but ultimately if we stick together we will make money long term!” Smith wrote.