100 Days In: Writers Reveal Their Highest and Lowest Moments of the Strike

From labor union solidarity to “every ridiculous thing the AMPTP has said”

Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) East hold signs as they walk on the picket-line outside of the Peacock NewFront on May 02, 2023 in New York City.
WGA members picket in New York City (Getty Images)

As the WGA strike enters its 100th day, a stalemate has emerged between writers and the AMPTP after a new round of negotiations failed to get off the ground last week.

With pickets growing across Hollywood and the rest of the country as the entertainment industry virtually shuts down in the face of the historic double strike, determination hasn’t wavered for many striking writers and actors.

“It’s a high moment — the fact that we’re 100 days … and still people are still showing up and still doing the work,” WGA captain Calvin Starnes told TheWrap.

For Starnes, the highest moment of the strike thus far came from a moment of unity between labor unions as “hot labor summer spilled into other industries fighting for similar protections.

“Going down to the Teamsters rally, UPS and hearing so many great union leaders speaking — [Teamsters VP] Lindsay [Dougherty], WGA negotiating committee Chris Keyser — that was really cool,” Starnes said, adding that a high moment is also seeing people show up every day for the cause.

Fellow WGA captain Jon Sherman, who wrote on series including “Frasier,” “Royal Pains” and “Sabrina The Teenage Witch,” also identified a downtown Teamsters rally — which also united writers, nurses and teachers — as an uplifting moment, including the subsequent successful deal for UPS that came three days later.

“The fact that UPS could get a deal as quickly as they [did] told me something — that there’s a way to make it happen if it’s important enough to people,” Sherman told TheWrap. “I think what we’re being told is it’s not important enough yet to these companies, but it will [be].”

WGA negotiating committee member Nicole Yorkin also looked back on the memorable march and subsequent rally at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, which happened on the 50th day of the strike.

“We had over 5,000 members walking literally in the streets of Los Angeles down Third and then Third and down Fairfax, and the show [of unity] was incredible — we had Teamsters, we had IATSE, we had teachers,” Yorkin told TheWrap. “The bad side is we’re all on strike, the good side is so much camaraderie and we’ve made some friends — the community has just expanded.”

The striking community expanded even more when SAG-AFTRA joined the WGA on the picket line after declaring their impending strike July 12, which was followed by an emotional speech by SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher on Thursday formally announcing an actors’ strike and telling Hollywood studios “the jig is up!”

“Her delivery made it so clear what the feeling of being disrespected was that I thought, ‘Oh, everybody’s gonna get it now,’” “Nancy Drew” showrunner Melinda Hsu Taylor said. “Friends of mine who are not in the industry, when I lay out a couple of basic points that were striking over, they say, ‘Oh, that’s wildly unfair, nobody would put up with that,’ so that’s been gratifying.”

Looking back on their lowest moments during the strike, WGA members recalled reading the Deadline report that quoted an anonymous studio executive who told the publication “the endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses” (the AMPTP has said the anonymous sources were “not speaking on behalf of the AMPTP or member companies, who are committed to reaching a deal and getting our industry back to work”).

“These are people have children … it was just cold and callous — not the Hollywood that we’re used to,” WGA member Dawn Prestwich told TheWrap, adding that the entire industry is depending on striking writers and actors getting back to work. “I’ve been in this business for a long time and it’s not what we’re used to. We’re used to human beings being on the other side and this doesn’t feel like human beings. It feels like tech, it feels like AI on the other side.”

“[A] low moment is every ridiculous thing the AMPTP has said — ‘Let them all starve,’ ‘You’re lucky to have term unemployment’ — just insult after insult,” Starnes said. “That’s kinda been a constant low point.”

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, click here.