Sami Haru, who served on the SAG-AFTRA national board and was a former interim Screen Actors Guild president, died Thursday. She was 75.
She received SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award, which is bestowed upon recipients for distinguished service to SAG’s Hollywood Division. In 2013, Haru was elected for a two-year term as a member of the first elected national board after the merger of SAG-AFTRA.
Her memoirs were published in 2012 under the title “Iron Lotus: Memoirs of Sevilla Haru.”
“It is with great sadness that our SAG-AFTRA family says goodbye to Sumi Haru,” said Ken Howard, SAG-AFTRA president. “Sumi notably represented SAG-AFTRA and its predecessor unions for decades on our local and national boards, and as Screen Actors Guild recording secretary and interim president. Sumi served our members through her lifelong dedication to actors, the labor movement, and civil rights and equal employment. She did that with conviction, passion and grace. Our deepest condolences go out to her loved ones. We will miss her.”
Haru joined SAG in 1968 and AFTRA in 1972. She served as a national board member for both organizations, and as interim president of SAG in 1995, the first and only woman of color to hold the position. That same year, she became the first Asian Pacific American to serve as a national vice president of the AFL-CIO. She held the position for six years.
Haru served as a legislative advocate on the national, state and local levels, as well as chairing SAG’s Legislative Committee. She served as a trustee and was a former president of the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund, and was formerly a board member of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
She worked on SAG’s national TV/theatrical and commercial contracts and AFTRA’s national network television and commercials agreements, negotiating “American Scene” language and affirmative action clauses.
Throughout her time in both SAG and AFTRA, Haru worked on behalf of women and minorities. She was co-founder and national chair of SAG’s Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee and served as western national chair of AFTRA’s Equal Employment Opportunities Committee. She originaled EEOC Career Day and helped develop SAG’s affirmative action conferences.