Film and television actors across the United States, including many Hallmark stars, have begun what could be a months-long strike after negotiations broke down between studio executives and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), comprised of 160,000 members, according to the Washington Post. Much like with the ongoing writers’ strike that began on May 2, picket lines have formed in New York and Los Angeles, with many actors joining the lines of writers picketing outside entertainment studios.
In a fiery speech railing against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on July 13, 2023, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher — former star of the hit sitcom “The Nanny” — called Hollywood studios and streamers’ actions “disgusting,” alleging that when they extended negotiations by 12 days, it was not with any intent to reach a deal, but to give themselves more time to finish current film shoots.
“They stayed locked behind closed doors and canceled our meetings with them,” Drescher alleged during an emotional press conference.
“We are the victims here,” she said of the union’s members. “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds and millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them.”
According to SAG-AFTRA’s strike guidelines issued on July 13, 2023, union members must stop all work related to past and present projects, from auditions to fittings to promotional appearances, in addition to not filming anything new. The strike does not include singers or news broadcasters, according to Vulture.
In a show of solidarity, many Hallmark stars took to social media on the first day of the strike to express their support, and some are getting more deeply involved. Here’s what you need to know:
Hallmark Stars Take Action to Support SAG-AFTRA Strike
To mark the beginning of the SAG-AFTRA strike on July 14, many Hallmark stars who belong to the union voiced their support for the strike. Longtime Hallmark actor Kristoffer Polaha posted a statement on Instagram, writing, “Our resolve has never been stronger, and together we have enormous power to effect real change in the entertainment industry. One day longer, one day stronger!”
Multiple stars hit the picket lines in Los Angeles on the first day of the strike. Erin Cahill, who attended two red carpet events earlier in the week, joined a picket line outside FOX Studios in Los Angeles on the first morning of the strike. In her Instagram Stories, she shared a reel she was included in from the picket line, originally posted by retired talent agent Beth Stein. Aimee Teagarden also joined a picket line with friends outside Amazon Studios, posting a photo in her Instagram Stories.
“Let’s go,” he wrote over his photo, in which he was wearing a “SAG-AFTRA Strong” t-shirt. “So many people’s livelihoods wrapped up in this fight. It’s about labor in general, about not allowing human capital to be siphoned off by tech corporations, who trash market after market for short term shareholder gain. But at what cost? It’s unsustainable for a population. Especially with automation/AI. This is the tip of a wave which will affect every industry. The time to make a stand has come, and I’m grateful that LA is a union town, because we know how to push back.”
Actress Katie Cassidy, who just starred in her first Hallmark movie, “The Royal Christmas Crush,” posted a strike graphic on Instagram and wrote, “Standing up for what is right! Can’t wait to join my fellow creative beings again on the picket lines! #StandUpForYourRights #sagaftrastrong #sagaftrafoundation”
Many other Hallmark stars posted the SAG-AFTRA’s official graphic or rules for the strike in their Instagram Stories to signal their solidarity, including Lacey Chabert, Nikki DeLoach, Rachel Boston, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Janel Parrish, Chelsea Hobbs, Sara Garcia and Sadie Snow.
Past & Present Hallmark Stars Address Specific Points of Contention in Actors’ Strike
Among the issues SAG-AFTRA wants resolved, per BuzzFeed, is to set boundaries around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to replicate actors’ likenesses, and to determine how actors — from the biggest stars to one-time extras — will be compensated when their work is aired digitally and by streamers.
Hallmark Channel alum Melissa Joan Hart, who rose to fame on sitcom “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and Nickelodeon’s “Clarissa Explains It All,” wrote an impassioned post to explain the impact of these decisions, pointing out that because of lax rules when she was filming in the 90s, she’s never received residuals for some of her previous work.
“Since 1993, I haven’t seen a dime for playing Clarissa yet she is still on streamers today,” she wrote. “My union fixed those wrongs for future players. And now we look to the future before we secure another 15 year contract to protect ourselves as best we can against what’s changing in our industry and the ways our bosses can screw us over.”
To show the mentality of the studio executives they’re striking against, several Hallmark stars shared a recent Deadline article in which anonymous sources revealed a secret strategy to let the writers’ strike continue through fall without negotiating, with one executive claiming “the endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
Meanwhile, Hallmark actress Eloise Mumford shared a photo on Instagram of picket signs ready to be picked up, and in her Instagram Stories, she posted a cancelation confirmation from Netflix, writing that she’s canceled all of her streaming services.
Over the image, she wrote, “Ps cancelled streamers until this strike is over and it felt amazing, highly recommend. Please send book recommendations! And AMPTP please come to the table with a deal that actually pays your actors and writers fairly!”
Until a deal is negotiated, many stars will have to alter their usual social media content. Some will likely post more about the strike and, potentially, about their personal lives to provide fans with content given that they are not allowed to promote old or new movies on social media until a deal is reached.