If you (somehow) haven’t heard, The Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) is on strike, demanding better wages, more writers per show, shorter contracts and other conditions that can ensure television and film writers are fairly treated in the era of streaming, according to the Associated Press. The WGA isn’t just an association, it’s a union. And like all good unions, it uses the process of collective bargaining to negotiate better terms for union members. The guild has nearly 12,000 members, all writers who have not been compensated fairly and are demanding change, including redrawing how residuals work for shows in streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Disney, etc. Like the strikes in 2007 which lasted 100 days, this movement isn’t likely to go away any time soon. Here are ten celebrity women who are speaking out, joining the protests or otherwise supporting the writers strike.
Actress and comedian Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Family Guy, Mad TV) has joined the strikes in Burbank, California to help the WGA leverage a new negotiation. Why is she striking? She told Deadline Hollywood: “I’m striking because writers have to get paid. You’re out of your freaking mind if you think you can make a show that isn’t written by a seasoned, professional writer. And the only way a person can become a seasoned, professional writer is if you pay them. Television is garbage without writers. I’m a proud television writer, I’m an actor too, but I’d say I’m a writer first, so let’s fucking do this.” Borstein also used the phrase “will slay for fair play,” which we hope will become the motto of this strike.
WHY I’M STRIKING: “You’re out of your freaking minds if you think you can make a show that’s not written by a seasoned, professional writer…” – Alex Borstein, WGA, outside Walt Disney Studios in Burbank today pic.twitter.com/nD1Ng1Kw9t
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) May 4, 2023
“It girl” writer and actress, Quinta Brunson, showed her support for the writers’ strike by both joining the protest and speaking out on the red carpet. During the Met Gala she talked with The Associated Press about the impending writers’ strike. “I’m a member of WGA,” said Brunson. “I support them–us– getting what we need. No one wants a strike, but I hope we’re able to rectify this, whatever that means.” The actress later joined the protest, holding a sign that read “AI can’t write Tariq’s raps,” a reference to her show Abbott Elementary.
Actress, comedian, and outright ICON, Jennifer Coolidge, voiced her support for the Writers Guild of America during her own acceptance speech when she won the “Comedic Genius” award at the 2023 MTV Movie and TV Awards. “Almost all great comedy starts with great writers, and as a proud member of SAG, I stand here before you tonight side-by-side with my sisters and brothers from the WGA, who are fighting for the rights of artists everywhere,” she said while accepting her award. “I think of the words of Shakespeare where he once said, ‘The play is the thing.’ Well, I don’t want to put words in his mouth or anything, but I think what he really meant was “it’s everything.”
— Movie & TV Awards (@MTVAwards) May 8, 2023
Backed by the opulence of the Met Gala, writer and actress Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project, Late Night) talked to the folks at Variety about the writers strike. When asked if she had a plan for the strike, she said, “I’m reading all my emails from the guild, and I’ll do my part no matter what.” A few days later, she was found joining the picked line in Los Angeles in support of the Writer’s Guild. We’re so happy to see she lived up to her promise at the Met Gala!
Where would modern television be without prodigy screenwriter, producer and author Shonda Rhimes? Responsible for breakout hits including Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Inventing Anna, and Bridgerton, Rhimes knows what it takes to bring an idea to life. ON May 3, Rhimes won BAFTA’s highest honor, a “Special Award” that recognizes her lifetime achievements and her several contributions to the television industry, Rhimes shared her support of the strike. “I really wish that we didn’t have to be on strike, and I feel the pain of the people who are dealing with the strike, but for me, for writers to get paid for what they do in a fair way is far more important. To have someone devalue art, it’s bad enough as it is right now– that’s happening everywhere. But for writers to not be able to make a living wage while making a television show or making a movie is a problem.”
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 4, 2023
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 4, 2023
The Sex and the City actress who also ran for Governor of New York, Cynthia Nixon, showed up to share her voice in the New York strikes. Nixon told Hollywood Reporter, “[The 2007 strikes] were long strikes, I think that is one reason everybody is pouring onto the picket line to try and make as much noise as possible right at the beginning,” she explained. “We’re here, we’re not going to be broken. No one is budging. We’ve got to negotiate.” Nixon also took to social media to make sure the message is spreading. “I stand with the WGA,” she wrote on her instagram post. “Without writers there would be no tv or film– they deserve a fair contract now!”
The brilliant SNL alum Aidy Bryant joined the Writers Guild strike in New York. She shared a photo on her instagram, holding a picket sign that reads “fair contract.” She wrote in her caption, “WGA Strong in NYC! I love my unions! And thanks to all the NYC bus drivers who honked in support, those honks had me JUICED!” As a result of the writer’s strike, Bryant’s former show, Saturday Night Live, announced that the show is (temporarily) canceled due to the strikes, and they will be airing repeat episodes until further notice.
Outside of her role in pop culture drama, Olivia Wilde has directed some very memorable films in the last few years including Don’t Worry Darling and Booksmart. During last week’s Met Gala, she shared her support of the WGA and unions in general. “I support the writers and I think it will affect all of us, people in the industry and people beyond the industry,” Wilde told Variety. “But I think we need to stand up for our rights. I support unions, and they spent a lot of time thinking about what they deserve. I wish it didn’t have to come to this.”
It’s no surprise that Broad City babe Illana Glazer joined the picket line in support of the Writers Guild. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Glazer had projects in the works that are now being paused until writer’s demands are met. She said, “We need living wages, our basic needs met, and the writing portion of TV and film has been squeezed and squeezed and squeezed over the last few years and it really shouldn’t be surprising to the big studios that the human beings who are creating this content, who are the beating hearts and minds of this art and content, want to be treated with basic dignity.” She also brought up the hypocrisy of the situation, and how this issue ladders up to larger, global issues. “For us to be creating formula based on stories already told deepens the systems of oppression that brought us here to fight today. This is conservatism, and it’s really directly related to the global threat of facism we’re seeing.”
Longtime feminist actress and writer Natasha Lyonne (Poker Face, Russian Doll, Orange is the New Black, But I’m a Cheerleader) showed up to the Paramount offices in Los Angeles to join the protests. In further support of the Writers Guild, Lyonne reposted a hilarious speech about ChatGPT and the need for writers that she made during the Time 100 Gala last year. Hate to say it’s even more relevant today! Check out the amusing speech below:
Want to Show Your Support?
If you’re interested in supporting the Writers Guild of America, there are several ways to do so. If you’re in Los Angeles or New York, you can physically join the picket line and strike with the writers themselves. You can also show your support on social media (here is WGA’s social media toolkit) and speak out to your own audience. If you wish to support monetarily, you can donate to the Entertainment Community Fund.