Some of Hollywood’s highest-earning actors are helping their colleagues and fellow performers amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. SAG-AFTRA Foundation President Courtney B. Vance shared that the nonprofit raised over $15 million in the past weeks for its Emergency Financial Assistance Program in order to “bring aid and hope to thousands of journeymen actors facing tremendous economic hardship” during the strikes and work stoppage.
Donations of $1 million or more came from a number of A-listers including Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey and more. Those donations follow in the footsteps of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who made a “milestone” undisclosed seven-figure donation in July. The foundation said that the list of million-dollar donors also includes George and Amal Clooney, Luciana and Matt Damon, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, and Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.
Vance said in a statement on the SAG-AFTRA website: “The entertainment industry is in crisis and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation is currently processing more than 30 times our usual number of applications for emergency aid. Our Emergency Financial Assistance Program is here to ensure that performers in need don’t lose their homes, have the ability to pay for utilities, buy food for their families, purchase life-saving prescriptions, cover medical bills and more. It’s a massive challenge, but we’re determined to meet this moment. For more than 38 years, the Foundation has been a safety net for our community during its most challenging times, and much like the COVID pandemic, this work stoppage magnifies the precarious living conditions and financial distress of many actors living paycheck to paycheck. I appealed to our community to remember how tough it was coming up, and the response to help their fellow performers has been incredible, immediate and heartwarming… We’ve crushed our initial goal because our people are coming together, but we still aren’t done. Our fundraising will continue in order to meet the overwhelming needs of our community now and in the future.”
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), which represent more than 160,000 film and television actors, officially went on strike on July 14, after they were unable to reach an agreement with major Hollywood studios and streamers by the July 12 deadline. Nearly all productions in Hollywood have been forced to shut down as a result. In addition, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike in May after failing to reach an agreement with major Hollywood studios over fair compensation. This is the first time both unions have been on strike at the same time since 1960.
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