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SAG-AFTRA: Hollywood shuts down as actors go on strike

Actors are officially going on strike, halting Hollywood production, red carpets, interviews, Emmy press tours, and more

Ben Whitehair, Frances Fisher, SAG President Fran Drescher, Joely Fisher, National Executive Director, and SAG-AFTRA members are seen as SAG-AFTRA National Board holds a press conference for vote on recommendation to call a strike © Frazer Harrison
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
Updated: July 14, 2023
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The SAG-AFTRA strike will officially begin at midnight on Friday July 14, 2023.

After more than three hours of deliberations, the SAG-AFTRA National Board announced during a press conference on July 13 that Hollywood actors would be going on strike, with Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland expressing the board's disappointment over the AMPTP's "reluctance" to meet their demands, and encouraging union members to "hold their labor."

Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland at the SAG-AFTRA Press Conference at the SAG-AFTRA Plaza on July 13, 2023© Michael Buckner
Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland at the SAG-AFTRA Press Conference at the SAG-AFTRA Plaza on July 13, 2023

What can SAG-AFTRA actors on strike not do?

Below is a list of actions union actors are not allowed to perform while striking.

Work and services specifically prohibited under the rules for the TV/Theatrical Contracts include: 

Principal on camera work, such as:

  • Acting
  • Singing
  • Dancing
  • Performing stunts
  • Piloting on-camera aircraft
  • Puppeteering
  • Performance capture or motion capture work

Principal off camera work, such as:

  • ADR/LoopingTV Trailers (promos) and Theatrical Trailers
  • Voice Acting
  • Singing
  • Narration, including audio descriptive services except as the services may be covered by another collective bargaining agreement referred in the Notice to Members Regarding Non-Struck Work
  • Background work
  • Stand-in work
  • Photo and/or body doubles
  • Fittings, wardrobe tests, and makeup tests
  • Rehearsals and camera tests
  • Scanning
  • Interviews and auditions (including via self-tape)

Promotion of/publicity services for work under the TV/Theatrical Contracts, such as:

  • Tours
  • Personal appearances
  • Interviews
  • Conventions
  • Fan expos
  • Festivals
  • For your consideration events
  • Panels
  • Premieres/screenings
  • Award shows
  • Junkets
  • Podcast appearances
  • Social media
  • Studio showcases

Negotiating and/or entering into and/or consenting to:

  • An agreement to perform covered services in the future
  • Any new agreement related to merchandising connected to a covered project
  • The creation and use of digital replicas, including through the reuse of prior work
  • Performing on a trailer for a struck production or other ancillary content connected to a struck production
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher speaks onstage during the 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, on February 27, 2022© Getty
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher speaks onstage

Which actors are going on strike?

Essentially, almost all of them! The SAG-AFTRA counts 160,000 working actors as members, and many of them have already taken to social media to voice their support for the strike and announce their intention to join the picket lines.

What's more, as soon as the decision was announced, it was immediately reflected across the pond in London, when the cast of Oppenheimer, including Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and more, walked out of the premiere midway.

What has SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP said about the strike?

The AMPTP shared a statement: "A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life. The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry."

In an impassioned speech, union president Fran Drescher confirmed the strike, and said: "It is with great sadness that we came to these crossroads but we had no choice," adding: "We are the victims, we are being victimized by this greedy entity."

She continued: "I am shocked… I can't believe it quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things.

"It is disgusting," she stated, exclaiming: "Shame on them, they stand on the wrong stand of history," and declared: "We stand in solidarity, in unprecedented unity."

National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland looks on as SAG-AFTRA President US actress Fran Drescher (L) speaks during a press conference at the labor union's headquarters in Los Angeles, California, on July 13, 2023© Getty
The former The Nanny actress gave an impassioned speech, which received strong applause from the crowd


In May, the Writers Guild of America went on strike after six weeks of contentious negotiations for a new contract, when their previous contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expired.

Since then, production on television and film has largely shut down, with late night shows (with the exception of Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live) being the first to go dark.

WATCH: Whoopi Goldberg reveals how "The View" will be affected by WGA strike

Now, after negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) – which represents 160,000 television and movie actors – and Hollywood studios, who are represented by the AMPTP, fell through Wednesday, actors will most likely be joining the picket line, resulting in Hollywood's biggest shutdown since 1960.

Fran Drescher, of The Nanny fame and the president of SAG-AFTRA, confirmed that the union would be heading to a vote early on Thursday, July 13 on whether they would strike or not, results of which will be announced shortly after the meeting.

Though the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes are not particularly connected, their arguments do fall under the same umbrella of better pay.

MORE: Why are Hollywood writers going on strike?

MORE: Drew Barrymore steps down as MTV Movie & TV Awards host in support of WGA strike

A sign reads 'Unions Stand Together' as SAG-AFTRA members walk the picket line in solidarity with striking WGA (Writers Guild of America) workers outside Netflix offices on July 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California© Getty
Many actors have already joined the picket line in support of the WGA strike

Much of the impasse is rooted on the actors' wishes for improved compensation and benefits, particularly concerning their residuals coming from streaming services, which they claim have not kept up with the stratospheric rise of Netflix, Max, Hulu, Prime Video, et al; as well as better protection against artificial intelligence using their likeness.

Negotiations first began on June 7 and were extended on June 30, during which actors such as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Ben Stiller, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and roughly 300 more, signed a letter to union leaders urging them to fight for their demands.

MORE: Jennifer Lawrence among high-profile actors ready to strike in open letter to Screen Actors Guild

MORE: Jimmy Fallon will pay his writers for two weeks amid writers' strike

Charlton Heston shakes hands with Charles S. Boren, vice president of the Association of Motion Picture Producers as the Screen Actors Guild ended its strike against 7 major picture studios. Shown next to Heston is SAG President Ronald Reagan who shakes h© Getty
Former President Ronald Reagan, an actor before a politician, was the president of SAG when actors went on strike in 1960

Fran has since slammed AMPTP's response to the union's demands as "insulting and disrespectful."

While because of the WGA strike, shows and movies with scripts still in production shut down their work, shows with finished scripts were able to keep filming. However, should actors go on strike as well, all production would be put to an indefinite stop, subsequently delaying premieres and new season releases. Beyond production, red carpets, interviews, and award shows are set to be impacted as well, as actors will not be promoting their work.

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