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Hollywood actors are going on strike

WGA and SAG haven’t been on strike simultaneously since 1960

Several people march behind a SAG-AFTRA banner at 2023 New York City Pride March
Members of SAG-AFTRA at Pride 2023 in New York
Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an assignment editor for entertainment news. He also writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union that represents working actors, is going on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The strike will begin at midnight on July 14, after the two parties were unable to come to an agreement on a new contract before the previous one expired earlier this week. The SAG strike adds to the ongoing labor upheaval in Hollywood; the Writers Guild of America (WGA) remains on strike after negotiations with AMPTP over its own members’ contract lapsed in May.

The SAG-AFTRA strike means that actors who are members of SAG-AFTRA will not work with any studios on their projects, including but not limited to television, movies, podcasts, and radio. This means that anything currently in production will be forced to halt until the two parties can agree to a new contract — without actors, there’s nothing to shoot. Actors will also stop attending promotional events, ranging from press conferences to movie premieres to Hot Ones.

AMPTP condemned the labor action in a statement, saying, “A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life. The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

Major actors guild strikes are fairly rare, especially recently. In 1986, SAG went on strike over contract updates, with action lasting just 14 hours. SAG’s 1980 had more impact, stretching on for three months and three days. The last time both SAG and the WGA were on strike at the same time was 1960.

While the full results of the SAG-AFTRA strike are impossible to know, one thing that’s almost certain are delays to movie and TV shows on the horizon. Some projects have already been hit with delays due to the WGA strike, but that has mostly been limited to movies and series that weren’t in production yet and were still being written. With actors not working, no series that’s in production will be able to continue without a ratified contract.

These delays are also likely to have a cascading effect, delaying movies dated further out on the calendar since, once the strike ends, actors will mostly go back to what they were working on at the outset, rather than moving on to new projects.

Despite the strike, SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP representatives will continue to negotiate in the coming days, weeks, and months in hopes of agreeing on a new contract.