Following Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s seven-figure donation to help out-of-work actors during the SAG-AFTRA strike, a handful of other big-name celebrities have been making their donations. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance program has now raised more than $15 million, with the majority of that total coming from A-list stars whom each gave $1 million or more to the cause, including George and Amal Clooney, Luciana Barroso and Matt Damon, Dwayne Johnson, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness, Leonardo DiCaprio, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep.
The SAG-AFTRA walkout is now in its fourth week, and while many actors have been able to find work on smaller projects or with studios that are not affected by the strike, others are having trouble paying their bills. The strike and another one by film and TV writers, who started in May over pay and the threat of artificial intelligence, have halted US film and television production, causing significant hardship for actors and other industry workers who depend on the work to make ends meet.
According to SAG-AFTRA Foundation president Courtney B. Vance, the actor-run organization’s emergency assistance fund has received applications from more than 400 actors since the beginning of the SAG strike. Those who have applied have asked for money to cover rent, medical bills, groceries, utilities, etc. “The goal of the program is to ensure that no SAG-AFTRA member in need goes without the essentials, whether they are a leading star or a journeyman,” Vance said in a statement.
Despite the fund’s success, Vance said that the organization is still seeking additional donations to help struggling actors and other industry workers, mainly because the strike is entering its fourth week with no end. The foundation plans to distribute funds continuously until the actors’ union and producers reach a new contract.
In the meantime, many of the same stars who have donated to the fund are also working on films that will not be impacted by the SAG-AFTRA strike, including Mother Mary starring Anne Hathaway and Hunter Schafer, Death of a Unicorn starring Paul Rudd, The Last Five Years starring Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck and The Rhythm Section starring John Cusack and Michelle Williams. Other films being filmed by the major studios and streamers include A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Will Smith, Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler, and the second season of FX’s The Shield.
The strike has also impacted film set crew members, such as grips and camera operators, who are now working on freelance assignments or waiting for production to resume. However, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, representing those workers, is donating $2 million to charities to help them through the shutdown. The union will give the money to its charity and those serving working people, children, and veterans.