WGAW Latinx Writers and SAG-AFTRA National Latino Committee Unite for an Inspiring Picket: 'Latinos Know How to Fight a Labor Fight' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

WGAW Latinx Writers and SAG-AFTRA National Latino Committee Unite for an Inspiring Picket: ‘Latinos Know How to Fight a Labor Fight’

August 22, 2023 by  

WGAW Latinx Writers Committee and SAG-AFTRA National Latino Committee picket

Some of the WGAW Latinx Writers Committee and SAG-AFTRA National Latino Committee picketers. (Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

The WGA Latinx Writers Committee and the SAG-AFTRA National Latino Committee held bi-coastal pickets in Los Angeles and New York City last week, drawing thousands of writers, actors, and supporters to the line in support of the ongoing dual strikes.

“This is the most intense one I’ve seen so far,” Kevin Alejandro (FIRE COUNTRY, LUCIFER) told Give Me My Remote of the picket which included speeches, a flash mob from Latinas Acting Up, themed signs (and puppets), as well as a lot of music.

“[This picket is] a reminder that our ever-growing community is strong…the recognition that we are enough; to hell with impostor syndrome,” Christina Piña, Chair of WGAW LatinX Writers Committee, said during her speech. “Even if you don’t speak Spanish fluently, even if you’re second or third generation, even if you’re Afro-Latina, with red hair and blue eyes, we don’t need to fit into everyone’s boxes of what it means to be Hispanic. We are all enough.”

“We are constantly sidelined on the page, in auditions with projects that are never bought,” she continued. “Well, we can no longer wait for snow in Havana. As our industry contracts, excuses will keep coming. But we know the truth. We know that we deserve to have our stories told.”

“Latinos know how to unionize,” Jorge Rivera, Vice-Chair of the Latinx Writers Committee, added. “Latinos know how to fight a labor fight. Latinos know how to win—and we’re going to win.” His declaration led to “Sí se puede!” chants from the crowd.

Edward James Olmos, who was greeted with raucous cheers and a chanting of his name before he spoke, acknowledged the fight ahead could be a long one. “The unification of the human soul is what we have,” the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA vet said. “I see a lot of different cultures here. That’s where the strength comes from…This is the most important thing I will say today: Be ready for the long run. This is going to take months. Do not bail out on us. By December, by Christmas, Christmas morning we should be here picketing stronger than ever.” 

Olmos also alluded to an anonymous exec, who allegedly said the intent was to wait to make a deal until after the writers started to lose their homes. “That is exactly a mentality that reigns amongst those that have money,” he said. 

When a deal is struck with the writers and actors, many of the speakers acknowledged that would be only part of the fight ahead. “As we navigate through these very difficult times of uncertainty, we have to fight so that they remember the importance of promises that they have made to our community so that we see ourselves on screen,” showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett (ONE DAY AT A TIME, WITH LOVE) said. “We have to do so in a way that is responsible. They cannot make things about us without us. We have made strides, but I am worried that there will be a contraction after this strike. So we have to be louder than ever—demand that the shows that exist continue to exist, and then more is made to make up for the inequity that we have faced the last 200 years.” 

“By championing Latina stories, we contribute to a global dialogue that celebrates our differences while highlighting our commonalities,” she continued. “These stories inspire empathy, they ignite conversation, they help pave the way for a more equitable future. Policymaking starts by what people see in Hollywood. We have to acknowledge that we are building the house, while we live in it, while others are actively trying to burn it down. And we must stand together.”

For Jon Huertas (THIS IS US, CASTLE), who has been a regular on the picket lines, it was important for him to attend the WGAW Latinx Writers Committee and SAG-AFTRA National Latino Committee picket because “this is a strike that is impacting not only the entire industry, but especially people of color,” he told GMMR. “The Latinx actor has been a working-class actor, since I can remember. We’ve been clawing hard, trying to have better development of our characters, get better roles. And so the protections, and the things that we’re asking for from SAG-AFTRA, can only help the cause.”

FIRE COUNTRY’s Stephanie Arcila, who was picketing with Alejandro, who plays her on-screen father, cited the feeling of community after hearing the speeches. “I think it’s really beautiful,” she told GMMR. “Everybody has come together, especially the writers and actors, and even people who aren’t in the industry or who aren’t in the union…[and] I get to see my dad.”

“It’s important for me just to be with my people, and everybody fighting together for the same thing, being as loud as we possibly can, and the people we love,” Alejandro added. “Because together we’re stronger than anything.”

After giving her speech—and witnessing the community celebrating and hyping each other up as the battle continues—Piña admitted to being “moved beyond words” by the picket.

“It’s been an incredible, incredible turnout,” she told GMMR. “I was just talking to a showrunner, and she said, ‘It just goes to show you, when the studios say they can’t find Latin writers and Latin actors—we’re all here.’ We definitely show up. We have a lot of allies here from other diversity groups and demographics. Just people wanting to party and also show support. We’re incredibly grateful…hopefully the studios will take note and remember that we are out here.”

The event also served to reinvigorate the two striking unions. “[This turnout] makes us feel a lot better,” Piña said. “It’s over a hundred days [on strike] for the writers, it’s a month for the actors. And while there are some days where we don’t want to get up to picket because it’s hot out and we’re tired…there’s a lot happening [in the world]. Seeing this event and seeing the beauty and the community and the love and just the fun of celebration and recognition and unity, it makes us feel like we can do it for another hundred days.”


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