Fran Drescher says actors strike she’s leading is an ‘inflection point’ that goes beyond Hollywood

by Michael Nguyen
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workplace activism

Fran Drescher asserts that the ongoing actors’ strike, which has effectively halted operations in Hollywood, holds significance far beyond the scope of the actors’ union she leads, the co-striking writers, or even the entire entertainment industry itself.

Speaking to The Big Big News, Drescher underscores that this moment signifies a broader movement encompassing the global realm of work. It serves as a resolute stance against corporate executives who prioritize shareholders over the individuals responsible for producing their goods and services.

Drescher, renowned for her role in “The Nanny” and currently serving as the President of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, expounds on the profound nature of this situation. In an interview at the union’s headquarters, she emphasizes the significance of saying “no more” at a certain juncture. She believes that this strike has transcended its individual components, evolving into a discourse concerning the ethos of major corporations and their treatment of employees at all levels, all in the pursuit of profit.

Having held the presidency since September 2021, after winning a union election against actor Matthew Modine, Drescher’s defining moment as president arrived on July 13. On that day, she delivered a compelling and impassioned speech during a news conference, announcing the impasse in negotiations and the commencement of the strike. In her remarks, she vigorously criticized studio and streaming service leaders, positioning them on the “wrong side of history.”

Drescher acknowledges that her decision to depart from her prepared statement and speak from the heart was spontaneous yet pivotal. She’s appreciative of the responsiveness her heartfelt words garnered, underscoring the rarity of authenticity in public discourse.

Notably, Drescher’s presidency marks the first instance of a film and TV actors’ strike under the guild since 1980. While the guild has seen notable leaders, including James Cagney, Ronald Reagan, and Charlton Heston, Drescher’s prominence and familiarity from her roles set her apart. From her debut in “Saturday Night Fever” to her iconic character Fran Fine in “The Nanny,” she has remained recognizable and resonant.

Reflecting on the evolution of the industry, Drescher notes substantial changes. She appreciates that her breakthrough occurred in an era when businesses were family-owned and personal connections with leadership were possible. However, the landscape has transformed. With CEOs now more aligned with shareholders than with the workforce, Drescher observes a breakdown in the sustainable equilibrium.

As negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Writers Guild of America unfold amid a nearly four-month writers’ strike, Drescher remains steadfast. She finds it puzzling that the AMPTP has not initiated talks with SAG-AFTRA leadership. While it might be a tactical maneuver, Drescher remains resolute that the strike’s resolve will not waver.

Characterizing this situation as an “inflection point,” Drescher stresses that this negotiation is unprecedented. She maintains that the AMPTP might not fully comprehend the gravity of the circumstances. This moment signifies a departure from prior negotiations, and unless substantial changes occur, Drescher envisions dire consequences for the AMPTP resulting from the strike.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about workplace activism

What is the significance of Fran Drescher’s involvement in the Hollywood strike?

Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, leads a pivotal actors’ strike representing a broader movement against corporate prioritization of profits over worker well-being.

How has the actors’ strike evolved beyond its initial focus?

The strike, led by Fran Drescher, has transcended its origins to address corporate culture and treatment of employees across industries, not just the entertainment sector.

What role did Fran Drescher’s speech play in the strike?

Fran Drescher’s impassioned speech marked a defining moment, vehemently criticizing studio leaders and rallying support for the strike’s cause.

How has the industry changed since Fran Drescher’s acting career began?

Drescher highlights the shift from family-owned businesses to profit-oriented models, where CEOs prioritize shareholders over those who create their products.

What makes this negotiation different from past ones?

Fran Drescher deems this a unique “inflection point” negotiation, distinct from prior instances, with potential consequences for the industry’s corporate players.

What does Fran Drescher envision for the outcome of the strike?

Drescher predicts potential harm for corporate entities if substantial changes aren’t made, asserting that this situation is unlike any previous negotiation.

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