Union members hail ‘extraordinary solidarity’ on day one of US actors’ strike

Union members have hailed an “extraordinary show of solidarity” on the picket line on day one of the Hollywood actors’ strike.

Actors and other creators stood shoulder to shoulder outside multiple studios across Los Angeles, reiterating that industrial action was “what needs to happen”.

Thousands of members picketed outside the studios of major production companies, including Warner Bros, Netflix and Disney in the sweltering heat on Friday.

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Actors and other creators stood shoulder to shoulder outside multiple studios across Los Angeles on Friday (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Members of actors’ union Sag-Aftra and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) joined forces while cars drove by honking their horns in solidarity.

Among the famous faces were Lord Of The Rings star Sean Austin, and Jim Rash, who appears in popular comedy TV series Community.

Speaking outside the Paramount Pictures studios, Rash, who has previously been picketing with members of the WGA, told the PA news agency the action was simply about securing “a fair deal”.

“I think today is about unity and about reigniting the cause, because we’ve been out here for a while,” he said.

“For me it’s just a fair deal – our checkpoints are slightly different for what that deal is, but everyone wants a fair deal.

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Striking writers and actors take part in a rally outside Paramount studios in Los Angeles (Chris Pizzello/AP)

“The industry has already changed and we never changed the rest with it.”

Bertila Damas, actress and former member of the Sag-Aftra board, said the turnout was “extraordinary, but not surprising”.

“We’ve been dismissed, we’ve been treated less than, we’ve been otherised as if the business didn’t depend on our backs and the writers,” she told PA.

“This is an extraordinary show of solidarity and it’s about time.”

Make-up artist Jeremy Bramer said the display of support from other unions was “overwhelming”.

“Everybody banding together to get what we want is amazing and the support from all the actors and everybody from every union is just overwhelming,” he said.

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Actress Joely Fisher, Sag-Aftra president Fran Drescher and Sag-Aftra chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland (Chris Pizzello/AP)

“From all over the world, everybody is banding together from the UK to the United States – it’s amazing.”

High profile actors including George Clooney, Jessica Chastain, Halle Berry and Alec Baldwin are among those who have expressed support for the action, to protect the lower-paid members of the union.

Actress Anna Garcia told PA: “I think it feels great to have those voices amplify and almost add legitimacy to the situation.

“I think a lot of the bigger Hollywood execs can write off the whiney ‘oh they’re asking for too much’ – but I think even having people in the positions where they have their needs met, to have them join in, validify it, is huge and very empowering.”

Asked what she wanted personally from the situation, Garcia said: “I would just like to see a resolution.

“Personally I want to come out with getting what they want, regardless of how long it takes, it’s what needs to happen.”

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Striking writers and actors take part in a rally outside Netflix studio in Los Angeles (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Announcing the strike on Thursday, Sag-Aftra president Fran Drescher said the length of the strike was up to the Hollywood studios.

“We are open to talking to them tonight,” she said, adding: “All of this is because of their behaviour, it’s up to them if they want to talk in a normal way.”

Drescher was also pictured at various picket lines on Friday.

Damas said she did not feel nervous “at all” with being on strike and stopping work, but voiced concerns about younger members of the union.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m not as concerned, I can weather the storm of unemployment,” she told PA.

“It’s a bigger deal than it’s ever been. What we’re asking for, if you ask me, is still not enough.”

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(Chris Pizzello/AP)

Stunt coordinator Mikal Kartvedt said that the added weight of the actors’ union membership to the ongoing writers’ strike – which began on May 2 – was a “gamechanger”.

“This could be a real crusher when it comes to the timeframe the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) thought they were working with, especially with the writers – this is a gamechanger for the whole thing.

“Shows that were already in the pipeline and ready to go to production, you could rationalise that you don’t need writers and you could shoot the show anyway.

“Without Sag-Aftra, there’s nothing going on anyway.”

He added: “The AMPTP will rustle up, they’ll double down and then they’ll start looking at the bottom line and realise it’s time to do the right thing.”