Last Friday at Disney, everything changed – it was like entering “a whole new world!” The Actors’ Guild has joined our cause, and they’ve brought an invigorating energy to the picket lines, even taking over our signs, which is totally fine! We’re in this together, and their support means the world to us. The picket lines have undergone a transformation, with upgraded tents and a variety of amenities to keep everyone comfortable during the long strike.
On day one of our seventy-three-day journey, the check-in tent at Disney resembled a well-stocked French pharmacy. We had everything from La Roche-Posay sunscreen with different SPFs to various lip balms, ensuring that no one ends up with a chapped smile when facing the multitude of cameras around. Speaking of cameras, there were significantly more of them now, capturing the growing movement. To our delight, we even noticed a make-up tent and heard whispers of a potential beard-trimming station. It’s great to see how the picket lines have evolved with the addition of the Actors’ Guild.
Our color scheme of blue shirts was enriched by the actors’ black shirts, giving birth to a powerful BLACK AND BLUE labor line, setting a unique and empowering vibe. The picket lines became a hub of activity, attracting numerous fans, both the enthusiastic air-moving kind and the devoted human kind. Disney now resembled Hollywood Blvd, with costumed individuals dressed as iconic Star Wars characters, each proudly displaying their Instagram handle on their chests. Together, they held a single shared sign expressing their strong message. The picket lines were a sight to behold, and the atmosphere was electric.
The addition of the actors injected a renewed spirit into our ranks. Chanting and lively performances became a regular occurrence, as the actors, being spirited by nature, loved to take on different roles, even as they directed us on the best ways to cross streets safely and avoid any accidents. Though we had already mastered these skills during the earlier days of the strike, their dedication was inspiring.
Prior to the involvement of the Actors’ Guild, spirits were starting to wane as the temperatures rose. Some strike captains, who initially signed up for a hat, now wished for minor family emergencies just to get a moment’s respite. The fire that burned within us during the first few days and weeks had subsided, replaced by the weariness of prolonged picketing. The DGA’s swift resolution with the studios dealt a blow to our morale, making us feel like the ground beneath us was crumbling.
The town sensed our vulnerability, and some tried to exploit it. Managers attempted to pitch projects even on the day the actors went on strike, and a friend shared an incident of harassment and mockery from a producer who wanted to “talk” about a project. It seems that many fail to grasp that a collective work stoppage is our only recourse in the face of unfair compensation and treatment. Even those who claim to support us don’t fully understand the significance of our cause.
A writer friend of mine, who had experienced multiple strikes, once shared a lesson about wealthy individuals becoming out of touch with reality. It reminded me of an incident from my past when I worked as an intern for a famous talk show host. The host’s wealth and status seemed to have created a disconnect from the real world. Just like my old boss, the CEOs and executives at AMPTP appear to suffer from a similar condition. Their detachment from the reality of the people who create the shows they profit from has made them the adversaries of Hollywood actors and writers alike. Their actions threaten to crush the dreams of those striving to make it in this industry.
In the end, heroes in stories are seldom greedy CEOs. We must stand united in this strike to ensure that our voices are heard and our contributions to the industry are recognized and valued. Together, we can bring about a fair and just resolution to this labor dispute and pave the way for a brighter future in Hollywood.