“Lights! Camera! No action!”
When the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) couldn’t reach a deal by the May 1 deadline, the WGA officially went on strike, and the only action Los Angeles has seen since is heavy foot traffic on the picket lines at major studios like Fox, Disney and Warner Brothers-Discovery.
With the threat of AI replacing writers and actors, a lack of residuals and no streaming transparency — the strike was inevitable. It’s now been over 100 days — more days than the last writers’ strike in 2007.
This is my first strike since moving from Bradenton to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the TV industry in 2021. Moving to Los Angeles was a risk that paid off. I’ve been an assistant on two shows: “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “Superman & Lois.” We were waiting on renewal news for “Superman and Lois” when the strike was officially announced.
None of us knew at the time that we’d surpass 100 days in the hot, summer months. Picketing isn’t glamorous. Yes, there have been celebrity sightings like Sean Penn and Jane Fonda since the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) joined the strike in July, but the majority of the protesters are made up of working people who want to afford the basic necessities.
For instance, you have to make at least $26,000 a year to qualify for SAG health insurance. Eighty-seven percent of members are ineligible.
I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve been on the picket lines. Day in and out, you’re walking and looping around the studios, holding up signs in the 90-plus degree heat. There are hundreds of picketers per location. You’re getting your steps in, drinking loads of water and partaking in a donated meal or a cold, sweet treat to fuel the rest of your shift.
There are cars honking in unison in support every second. Bullhorns sound off from the guild captains to keep enthusiasm and to direct the foot traffic.
Despite the sensory overload, it’s the best mixer in town. I’ve met so many peers, actors, writers, and directors. I’ve also been able to catch up with former colleagues and meet some heroes of mine. I told Gina Prince-Bythewood — who directed “The Woman King” — how much I valued her work.
Dule Hill stood next to me by the SAG tent, and I was able to tell him I really dug his role as the stern yet loving patriarch and musician in the “Wonder Years” reboot.
“I hope I do it justice,” he said to me. That’s a moment I’ll always cherish.
Our shared picketing experiences have brought our industry closer together. We are there for the same goals and we know there’s strength in numbers.
On day 100, we all looked at each other and said, “Unhappy day 100.” It wasn’t a celebratory occasion. It was a sad milestone that none of us wanted to reach.
We’re angry it’s gotten to this point with no end in sight. We’re all sweaty and tired, but we know the show must go on. Maybe not literally right now, but hopefully that day will come soon.
In the meantime, we’ll wake up another day with our signs in hand. We’ll gather together in the blaring sun, greet our peers, talk about life while we circle our fifth loop and look forward to the day that we’ll get back to work.
Undine Shorey is a Bradenton native based in Los Angeles. She’s a freelance writer and Writers’ Production Assistant.