Fran Drescher Takes Center Stage as the Actors’ Union Leader

The stage was different and the pitch was also different. But the voice was unmistakable.

Fran Drescher, who has a distinctly nasal Queens accent, made a name for himself in Hollywood with his starring role in the sitcom The Nanny. On Thursday, she appeared in front of dozens of cameras as president of the Actors Guild that unanimously voted to go on strike earlier in the day, leading to a heated debate depicting the stakes of the decision.

“The eyes of the world, especially the workers, are on us,” Drescher said. “What happens to us matters. What happens to us happens in every sector of work.”

She raised her fist indignantly. “We are shocked at how people we have dealt with have treated us,” she continued. “That’s disgusting. Shame on them!”

Ms Drescher, among familiar faces like Ronald Reagan, Patty Duke and Charlton Heston, is the latest to join SAG-AFTRA, a labor union representing tens of thousands of movie stars. But it’s a surprising twist in her long career.

As revealed at a press conference Thursday, she is now a major face of the revived labor movement across the country. How she handles the situation in the coming weeks and possibly months could help determine the fate of the 160,000 actors.

The actors’ strike, which takes effect on Friday, marks a crisis point for Hollywood. Hollywood has already been rocked in recent years by the pandemic and sweeping technological change with the rise of streaming and steady declines in cable and box office revenues. Return value. Writers in Hollywood have been on strike for months, and actors are joining them — the first time since 1960 that both have gone on strike at the same time — effectively bringing the industry to a halt. deaf.

Drescher, 65, has spent decades in Hollywood acting in both television and film. Since starring in “The Nanny” in the 1990s, he has made sporadic appearances in television and feature films, with his most prominent role to date. She recently starred in NBC’s short-lived sitcom “Indebted,” which ran for 12 episodes before being canceled in 2020.

She has long voiced her concern about corporate greed and has attached slogans such as “Stop capitalist greed now.”It was enough for New York magazine to publish 2017 blog post headlines“Your new favorite anti-capitalist icon is Fran Drescher.”

A few years later, in 2021, Drescher was elected guild president in a heated race with actor Matthew Modine. They were representatives of various factions. Drescher was head of the established party, Unite for Strength, and Modine was head of the emerging group, Membership First.

The race turned so fierce that Modine accused Drescher of spreading lies about him. reportedly“Fran Drescher is ashamed and disappointed.

Unlike screenwriters who have historically banded together, striking multiple times over decades, actors are well known for their internal strife. Hollywood has been preparing for a writers strike since the beginning of the year, but few executives and producers were prepared for the actors to pull through.

When Ms Dresher came to power, she united the unions and to bring an end to “a dysfunctional department of this union”.

When the actors agreed to go on strike, it was 97.9 percent of the vote, a staggering figure that surpassed even the writers’ go-to strike permits. Last month, lawmakers first, opposition party, approved Drescher’s re-election challenge.

Still, some of her public statements and actions in recent weeks have embarrassed many actors.

A video released by Drescher and union chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree Ireland in late June, days before the actors’ contracts expired, was surprisingly upbeat given the high stakes in the negotiations. and left a lasting impression on many viewers.

“We want to ensure that we are having very productive negotiations focused on all the important issues that you told us were most important,” she said, wearing a military jacket. . “We are standing firm and we intend to achieve an ingenious deal!”

Just days later, more than 1,000 actors, including Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, signed a letter to union leaders expressing concern that their strike intentions had not been taken into account. “On behalf of us, we hope that you will not miss the moment,” the letter read.

Ms. Drescher added her signature to the letter, curiously given her position.

On Monday, just days before the actors’ contracts expired, Ms. Drescher was in the spotlight in another way. She attended the Dolce & Gabbana haute couture fashion show in Puglia, Italy, where she was pictured with Kim Kardashian. Kardashian told her 362 million Instagram followers about Drescher: Always on my mood board! I really love this woman! ”

The backlash was quick, swift. “General Hospital” actress Nancy Lee Grahn questioned whether the photo was a joke. “I hope this isn’t true. It can’t be. No one is that stupid,” she said. I have written on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the Actors Guild said in a statement that Drescher worked as a “brand ambassador” for Dolce & Gabbana and that the commitment was “well known to the negotiating committee.” Crabtree Ireland said the criticism of Drescher’s fashion show appearance was “outrageous” and “despicable”.

Drescher addressed the issue at a press conference on Thursday. “It was an absolute job,” she said, adding that she continued to communicate with negotiators from abroad. “I wore my hair and makeup and walked on cobblestones in heels for three hours a day. That’s my job. It’s not fun.”

While Mr Crabtree Ireland spoke from a teleprompter at a press conference, Mr Drescher spoke bluntly.

“Wake up in the morning and smell the coffee,” she said of the studio. “We demand respect! You cannot exist without us!”

“At this moment, they are on the wrong side of history,” she continues, pointing her finger forcefully at the camera bank. “We are united in unprecedented solidarity. Our unions, sister unions and unions around the world stand by us.”

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