Sheryl Lee Ralph spoke up for herself and her fellow SAG-AFTRA members this week with a little help from Rihanna.
The Abbott Elementary star shared footage to her Instagram account Wednesday (Sept. 13) of herself giving an impassioned speech during a Los Angeles rally supporting striking actors and writers, quoting Riri’s “Bi**h Better Have My Money” to drive the point home.
“You know why we’re here. You know what we deserve. And in the words of one of our SAG members, ‘Pay us what you owe us. Don’t act like you forgot. Shot shot shots! Aye!,’” Ralph said, paraphrasing the mother of two’s 2015 hit.
Rihanna is also a member of SAG, having starred in Battleship, Oceans 8, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
“What can I say…the spirit of @badgalriri got to me,” Ralph, 66, captioned the clip, being sure to tag SAG-AFTRA’s Instagram account.
Within the speech shared by AP on YouTube, Ralph went on, “We are the heartbeat of the entertainment industry. You might try to recreate us with AI, but ain’t nothing going to be as fabulous as the human beings that we are,” Ralph continued.
The Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists went on strike Friday, July 14, 2023 after failing to agree on a new contract for improved wages and working conditions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Actors are also seeking improved health and pension benefits and to create safeguards that would protect them from having their likeness replicated by artificial intelligence.
“We are the victims here,” Fran Drescher, president of the actors union, said when the strike began. “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us… It is disgusting; shame on them. You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not expect the contract to change, too.”
In addition to SAG-AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is also on strike, and has been since May 2023.
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