Fran Drescher Says Rousing SAG Speech Was Unscripted: ‘That Just Kind of Came Out of My Mouth’

The union president calls the Hollywood strikes “an inflection point”: “This is not like any past negotiation”

Fran Drescher (Getty Images)

Fran Drescher had planned to read a simple statement on the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike at the union’s rally on July 13, then take some questions.

But once the president stood before her members, she was moved to say much more.

“You people are crazy — why are you doing this?” she said while recounting the weeks of negotiations with the AMPTP that have left many in the union feeling “insulted.”

“They stand on the wrong side of history,” she continued. “At this very moment, we stand in solidarity in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions and the unions around the world are standing by us, as well as other labor unions, because at some point the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized and disrespected and dishonored. The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. This is a moment of history. That is a moment of truth.”

The fiery comments came off the cuff, Drescher said, after looking at her prepared remarks and rejecting them.

“I looked at it quickly and I said, ‘You know what, I can’t say this, I really feel like I have to speak from the heart,’” the former “Nanny” star told the Associated Press in an interview at the union’s heasquarters. “That just kind of came out of my mouth, and I’m glad that I was able to express myself as succinctly and sincerely and authentically as I did. And I think that it’s fascinating when you speak from the heart, people are so responsive. Because I guess they see a lot of people that don’t.”

The union leader told the AP she believes that the strikes now shutting down Hollywood are part of a larger issue about how corporations value shareholders over the people who work for them.

“I think that it’s taken on a bigger scope, it’s greater than the sum of its parts,” she said of the actors union joining the writers’ unions on the picket lines. I think it’s a conversation now about the culture of big business, and how it treats everybody up and down the ladder in the name of profit.”

She said that the business has changed drastically since the days in the late 1990s when she was starring in her sitcom. I’m very grateful that I got my big break during that time and not this time,” Drescher said. “When I started on ‘The Nanny’ at CBS, that was still a family owned business. You knew who the owners were and you could talk to them. And everything has changed.”

“Now, when you have a business model where the CEOs are more connected to the shareholders and not to the people that actually make the product that they’re selling,” she said. “I think that you have a breakdown that is unsustainable.”

Drescher nevertheless lamented the breakdown in talks with the AMPTP.

“I’m not really understanding what the silent treatment is,” Drescher said. “It could be a tactical strategy to see if we they can wait us out until we lose our resolve and then they can make a better deal for themselves.”

But she said that’s not about to happen.

Drescher said nothing like that is going to happen.

“This is an inflection point,” she said. “I don’t think anybody that’s in charge of the AMPTP quite understands that.

“This is not like any past negotiation. We’re in a whole new ball game. And if things don’t change radically, quite frankly, I think that they’re going to ultimately get very hurt by this strike.”