More Hollywood A-listers are matching Dwayne The Rock” Johnson’s $1 million donation to the SAG-AFTRA fund, more Hollywood A-listers are following suit.
“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. We received 400 applications in the last week alone,” SAG-AFTRA Foundation president Courtney B. Vance told Variety in a Wednesday, August 2, statement about the nonprofit’s successful fundraising efforts. “It’s a massive challenge, but we’re determined to meet this moment.”
Since the actors’ guild officially went on strike last month, the SAG Foundation has raised more than $15 million for its emergency financial assistance program — greatly in part to some of Hollywood’s top-earning actors. Among those who have donated are George and Amal Clooney, Luciana Barroso and Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep.
Celebrities are following in the footsteps of Johnson, 51, who recently contributed a seven-figure amount to the organization, which can deliver grants of up to $1,500 per member. (In other cases, a lifetime union member could receive up to $6,000 in emergency assistance if in serious jeopardy.) At the time, the foundation’s executive director, Cyd Wilson, told Variety that Johnson’s donation was the “largest single donation” the organization has ever received from one person.
“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,” Vance continued in his statement on Wednesday, noting that Johnson, 51, “helped kick-start this campaign.” He also gave thanks to Streep, 74, and George, 62, who “stepped up with $1 million donations, emails and many calls-to-action rallying others to give generously.”
Vance announced that thanks to the latest donations, the SAG Foundation has “crushed our initial goal” — but the work still isn’t done. “Our fundraising will continue in order to meet the overwhelming needs of our community now and in the future,” he concluded.
“I remember my days as a waiter, cleaner, typist, even my time on the unemployment line,” Streep told Variety on Wednesday, detailing why it’s important for her to give back. “In this strike action, I am lucky to be able to support those who will struggle in a long action to sustain against Goliath. We will stand strong together against these powerful corporations who are bent on taking the humanity, the human dignity, even the human out of our profession. I am proudest of my fellow actors who have immediately offered to fund the Emergency Financial Assistance Program.”
George, for his part, released his own statement on July 13 before the strike began. “We stand ready to get back to the table and make a fair deal with the AMPTP,” he said. “Until then, I’m proud to be able to support the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and my fellow actors who may be struggling in this historic moment. We’ve stood on the shoulders of the likes of Bette Davis and Jimmy Cagney and it’s time for our generation to give something back.”
He thanked Vance in particular for “his determination in putting this effort together by shedding light on the human toll happening right now, and how we can work together to alleviate some of the pain and suffering” from those currently struggling without work.
The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has been on strike since July 14 over an ongoing dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The guild’s issues are regarding fairer wages, streaming residuals, artificial intelligence and other topics that could not be agreed upon by the AMPTP when drawing up a new contract.
SAG members took to the picket lines two months after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on its own strike over similar disputes with the AMPTP. It marks the first time that both the actors and writers unions have been on strike together since 1960.
Beyond large donations, many celebrities have found their own ways to show their solidarity for both strikes, by either picketing outside New York City and Los Angeles-based studios or getting candid about their experiences in the industry.
Mandy Moore, who starred as Rebecca Pearson for six seasons on the critically acclaimed show This Is Us, explained during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last month that actors could be surviving on residuals between projects if they are paid fairly — but that’s not typically the case.
“We’re in incredibly fortunate positions as working actors having been on shows that found tremendous success in one way or another … but many actors in our position for years before us were able to live off of residuals or at least pay their bills,” she told the outlet, adding that she received “very tiny, like, 81-cent checks” for streaming residuals for the NBC hit.
Robert Carradine, who starred on Lizzie McGuire alongside Hilary Duff, brought his own receipts in support of the strike, sharing a photo via Instagram last week that revealed he earned “$0.00” in residuals for the show in August 2019, despite the entire series being available to stream on Disney+