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Which Names Have Been Spotted Protesting for the SAG-AFTRA Strike and, More Importantly, What Are They Saying?

by Oana-Maria Moldovan

Some of the biggest names in Hollywood have spoken, and the verdict is unanimous: they all want the industry to change. 

This month, the workers' union, which is made up of more than 160,000 TV and film actors, decided to go on strike. 

The reason? The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has failed to reach an agreement on fair wages and the use of artificial intelligence in the industry. 

So who are the faces on the front line of this strike?

Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA and best known for her role in "The Nanny," has been noted as not only one of the key players leading this strike, but also the voice of reason for the movement.

In an interview with CBS News, Drescher stated, "I wish we would be talking to the other side.”

Explaining later that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) "doesn't want to talk to us". 

Matt Damon, whose new movie, Oppenheimer, was released to the public this week, stressed the importance of residual payments while speaking to the Associated Press at a promotional event.

Damon's Oppenheimer co-stars, Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt, were even seen staging a walk-out during their UK premiere due to the strike. This was confirmed by the films director, Christopher Nolan.

Their other co-star, Florence Pugh, added that unfair wage problem "affects the entire industry" and"was happening for a while.”

Titular character of another new release, Margot Robbie expressed her full support for the unions in an interview with Sky News. 

The Barbie star pledged to participate in the strike, stating: "I'm very much in support of all the unions, and I'm a part of SAG. So I would absolutely stand by that."

Sean Gunn, known for his role as Kirk in the cult classic show Gilmore Girls, has also been a loud voice during the strike - both on the internet and on the streets. 

He revealed that he gets only "a small amount of money", juxtaposing his vast work in the seven-season role. 

The Marvel star has also been utilising the SAG-AFTRA TikTok account to call out Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, for “making 400x what his lowest workers” make. Compared to “in 1980” when CEOS “like him” would make “30x” what the lowest worker was making. 

White Lotus and ‘Parks and Rec’ star, Aubrey Plaza, also used TikTok as a platform for her message, stating that she is on strike to "fight this broken system" and that she thinks "these corporations have been profiting off their talents and their work.”

She also stated that this "old model" they've been working by is not working anymore, and it needs a "new system" where everyone is paid for the work they've done.

After receiving the best supporting actress prize for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once at the SAG Awards earlier this year, Jamie Lee Curtis showed her support for the strike on Instagram. 

Posting a photo of the stereotypical thespian comedy and tragedy masks, she captioned "It looks like it’s time to take down the MASKS. And pick up the SIGNS".

Being vocal from the sidelines, George Cloony released a statement to Variety arguing that “actors and writers in large numbers have lost their ability to make a living” and expressing how the industry won't survive without a change.

Resembling her character of Miranda from Sex and the City and And Just Like That as well as channelling her real-life political career, Cynthia Nixon declared via Twitter that she is "proud to be standing tall as actors and writers together demand a fair share of the record-breaking profits the studios have been reaping from our labor for far too long."

Spotted on the streets have been many famous faces including Joey King smiling proudly as she holds up a sign for the strike, Hilary Duff intertwined with a crowd singing "What Dreams Are Made Of" from her infamous The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and Shameless star Jeremy Allen White who stood with his fellow actors, writers and directors. 

The first ever female president of the Screen Actors Guild (1957-63), Kathleen Nolan, also joined the strike alongside her only child and fellow SAG-AFTRA member, Spencer Garrett. 

The 89-year-old was spotted singing, “I am a Union woman, as brave as I can be / I stand up for fair wages and equality.”

While knowing the names might grab your interest, these faces are not as important as the message they are delivering. 

What is happening right now in the movie and television industry is going to be a difficult fight - and these people represent quite how important is it to protesting for a better work environment and for fair wages. 

Edited by Emily Duff

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