Some of the biggest Black stars in Hollywood are getting more vocal about the strike that has left thousands of writers and actors without paychecks—and threatens to leave all of us without new content to watch.
In maybe the most high-profile move by any Hollywood A-lister yet, EGOT-winner Viola Davis said on Sunday that she would halt filming her upcoming move, G20, out of support for the Hollywood strike even though the production was among several indie films that received waivers from the striking unions to continue filming.
“I love this movie, but I do not feel that it would be appropriate for this production to move forward during the strike,” Davis, who is producing and starring in G20, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “I appreciate that the producers on the project agree with this decision. JuVee Productions and I stand in solidarity with actors, SAG/AFTRA and the WGA.”
For someone of Davis’ stature to outright call filming inappropriate puts pressure on other indie productions and major stars. With studios and streaming networks making it clear that they’re prepared to wait out SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, these waivers may become a bigger issue if the strikes move into the winter and spring.
The waivers given to independent films have been hotly-debated within the industry, with big names like Anne Hathaway, Paul Rudd and Matthew McConaughey currently working on indie projects that have seen some actors criticize them for crossing picket lines. Others see some value in showing how film productions can work under new SAG-AFTRA standards.
Meanwhile, another Oscar winner is showing his support on social media. Will Smith called the actors’ and writers’ strikes a “pivotal moment” in the industry. Accompanied by a photo of himself with a group of young actors, the King Richard star posted a message on Instagram where he celebrated his acting “coach.”
“I wanna talk for a second about ACTING. As some of yall mighta heard, my guild, @SAGAFTRA are on strike along with our writer colleagues in the WGA. It’s a pivotal moment for our profession,” Smith wrote. “33 years into my career as an actor and there are still some days when I feel like I’m that kid from Philly who’s on borrowed time, even though I know I’ve been extraordinarily blessed and lucky to have worked as an actor all this time. It’s thanks to my friend, my teacher and my mentor @aaronspeiser whom I fondly refer to as ‘coach’ that those days when I feel like I don’t belong are fewer and further between.”
“Coach invited me to an acting class the other day and I met a group of our talented next generation of actors and they amazed and inspired me!,” he continued. “I’m grateful to coach for continuing to support these talented hopefuls in this art-form that I love and have been lucky enough to work in for three decades of my life! Thanks COACH!”