Hollywood Stars Donate $15 Million+ to SAG-AFTRA Strike Fund

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The dual strikes of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA unions have highlighted the need for solidarity across the swaths of workers represented in them—and the necessity of their highest-profile members to support the rights needed by the lowest. And now, at least some of them are stepping up.

Deadline reports that the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has confirmed over $15 million in donations to its Emergency Financial Assistance Program—designed to aid union members most impacted by the strike’s work pauses—in the last three weeks, specifically from $1 million-plus contributions from some of the highest-earning members of the union. “The entertainment industry is in crisis and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation is currently processing more than 30 times our usual number of applications for emergency aid,” Courtney B. Vance, president of the Foundation, said in a press statement. “We received 400 applications in the last week alone. Our Emergency Financial Assistance Program is here to ensure that performers in need don’t lose their homes, have the ability to pay for utilities, buy food for their families, purchase life-saving prescriptions, cover medical bills, and more.”

The donation drive was kicked off in earnest last week with the news of Black Adam star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s donation of an unspecified “seven-figure” amount to the Foundation, and he’s now been joined by a whole host of stars, including:

  • George and Amal Clooney
  • Luciana and Matt Damon
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck
  • Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively
  • Julia Roberts
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Meryl Streep
  • Oprah Winfrey

“We stand ready to get back to the table and make a fair deal with the AMPTP,” George Clooney said in an accompanying statement. “Until then, I’m proud to be able to support the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and my fellow actors who may be struggling in this historic moment.”

Plenty has been made of the purported “hypocrisy” of the wealthy and famous members of both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA joining their fellow union members on picket lines since, in particular, the beginning of the former’s strike action three weeks ago. But donations like this and the presence of those stars in these actions is vital to highlight support not for them and their peers, but union members who do not have the same kind of financial power, and need the rights being fought for by their unions to guarantee access to stable incomes. Their involvement isn’t about the wealthy boosting their own, but using their positions to support the roughly 75-90% of SAG-AFTRA’s membership that cannot qualify for union-guaranteed healthcare plans, because they make less than $26,470 a year from acting.

As the studios involved with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers begin to weigh the prospects of a long haul for both strikes—the AMPTP is currently seeking a return to the negotiating table with the WGA this Friday, August 4, 94 days since the WGA’s strike action began—union members of all stripes will need to band together and support each other.


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