Kerry Washington, in an address to a cross-industry crowd of striking unions at Tuesday’s National Day of Solidarity rally, slammed the Hollywood studios and the amplified the ongoing dual strike of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA agains the AMPTP.
“They think they can come for the artists first, but we’re not going to let them come for us because we’re not going to let them come for anybody,” she said. “We’re going to protect all workers.”
She also celebrated all industry laborers present at the rally, emphasizing, “We have the potential to transform this industry, and we have the potential to save so many other workers. So many people don’t know that we are standing on the front lines in this moment.”
The actress was joined by Hollywood colleagues like Ron Perlman, Martin Sheen, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and even Burbank Mayor Constantine Anthony at the rally. Washington kicked off her speech with an appeal to working class actors who don’t always appear on the covers of magazines and billboards.
“When I wanted to be an actor, when I was a little girl dreaming about this job, I thought there was no way that I could do this because I thought that wanting to be an actor meant you had to want to be famous. I thought that being an actor meant that you had to want to be on the cover of magazines and on big billboards,” Washington said. “And to be honest with you, I didn’t think that that was possible for me. I wasn’t going to pursue my dream because I thought pursuing my dream meant reaching for the impossible. And then I learned about unions. I learned that there are people, communities of people, entire unions of people that were making a living, being working actors. I learned that I didn’t have to want to be famous. I could just pursue a career doing what I love to do.”
Then she moved to the current dual strike and the historic moment they represent for workers in Hollywood and beyond.
“We’ve come to a point in our history where just being a working actor — coming to work every day, devoting oneself to this craft, dedicating oneself to the entertainment and the joy of others — means I can’t make a fair living,” she said. “It’s not OK. It’s not OK for other people to benefit from our hard work and sweat. It’s not OK for other people to benefit while we work 16-hour days. It’s not OK for other people to benefit when we put our vulnerability and our hearts on the line. It’s not OK for other people to benefit while we do the hard work. That dream of being a working artist, that dream of making a living doing what we want to do, should not be impossible. We should not be chasing the impossible when we dedicate ourselves to the joy and entertainment of others.”
The Emmy-winning actress also coyly nodded to a certain role she used to play — not naming it as “Scandal” protagonist Olivia Pope, since the strike forbids promotion of any projects — getting called upon to fix the situation. She boiled it down to the fact that many people are needed to solve this current problem Hollywood faces, not just one “superhero.”
“What I want us to acknowledge today is that there is this tradition of storytelling that says that there’s one hero who comes in and saves the day, that it’s one for one — that one person goes out there and conquers the impossible. That’s the story we tell,” Washington said. “But when you stand here today, and you look around, know that the real way that we create change is standing together, that it is not about one person, one for one. It’s about one for all that we are here for each other, that we are here because we know that unions matter.
“Not only do we have solidarity within our unions,” she continued, “we have solidarity between our unions because we know that workers are workers, and we work hard. Every single one of you is the hero that’s going to make this happen. We stand together, we don’t give up.”
Watch Washington’s full rally speech in the video above.
For all of TheWrap’s strike coverage, click here.
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