Jessica Chastain, Keke Palmer and More Stars React to SAG and WGA Strikes: ‘We Will Not Back Down’
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are currently on strike in Hollywood and beyond, and actors from across the industry are sharing their words of support for the cause in interviews and online.
On July 13, The Nanny star and president of SAG-AFTRA Fran Drescher gave a press conference to discuss the way actors and writers are being "victimized" by studios.
"We are being victimized by a very greedy enterprise. At some point you have to say ‘No, we’re not going to take this anymore. You people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’” Drescher said, according to Variety.
During the press conference, Drescher lambasted studios' eagerness to replace and take advantage of actors using AI. She also argued for fairer pay as well as better residual pay for actors and staff who work on streaming shows and films.
"If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in jeopardy. You cannot change the business model as much as it has been changed and not expect the contract to change too," Drescher said, referring to the rise of streaming and the advancement of AI technology.
"I cannot believe … how [the studios] plead poverty, that they are losing money left and right, when they give hundreds of millions to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them," Drescher continued.
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Drescher isn't the only actor who has spoken out in support of the strikes.
"It’s $26,000 to qualify for health coverage and a lot of people are on the margins and residual payments are getting them across that threshold. This isn’t an academic exercise. This is real life and death stuff. Hopefully we get to a resolution quickly. No one wants a work stoppage, but we’ve got to get a fair deal," Matt Damon told Variety at the premiere of Oppenheimer.
See more celebrity reactions to and support for the historic strikes, below:
Why Is Hollywood on Strike Right Now?
Members of SAG-AFTRA and WAG are on strike right now in response to labor injustices in Hollywood.
Screenwriters and actors on strike are fighting for fairer pay and better residuals in the age of streaming, since shows are becoming more expensive to create.
Those on strike are also seeking better benefits, including pension plans and health benefits. Currently, SAG-AFTRA members need to make a minimum of $26,470 per year to qualify for health insurance.
Actors in particular are also concerned about the rise of AI and the potential replacement of actors using AI to cut studio costs, as well as the possibility of their likeness being used without authorization.
The SAG union’s contract expired on July 12. Negotiations have been ongoing for a month with little progress.
The joint SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike marks the first time a double protest has taken place in Hollywood since 1960, according to The New York Times. During that strike Marilyn Monroe was still starring in films and Ronald Regan was president of SAG. Writers and actors sought higher compensation amid the rise of television.