My commitment to our Guild holds sacred our immense collective power. I believe we must constantly tend it, and wield it with courage. I value inclusion, safe workplaces for all members, and protection and expansion of our middle class. I ran for the board two years ago with a promise that my experience and skills as an organizer would be a valuable asset to leadership, and that is a promise kept. I am running for a second term because I believe the next decade will be tumultuous for our profession and that in such times, bold, brave leadership is required to fulfill the Guild’s mission of protecting writers. Some historic shifts can be anticipated, or fomented. Others rise up, unexpected.
In 2017, our membership elected the first gender balanced board in the Guild’s history. A month later, the Weinstein story broke. I don’t know how leadership would have responded were women not equally represented, but I do know it took all of us advocating that we make the issue of sexual harassment a priority for the gears of the Guild to begin to turn in service of addressing it. In the past, ours has not been an institution that protects its most vulnerable members from the harassment rampant in our industry. But it can be. Institutional change does not come fast, or easy. It requires vision and constant pressure. I am in it for the long haul.
I immediately pushed for a member survey. A small step, yes, but a vital one. The men in leadership needed to face the scale of the problem, and we all needed as much information as possible as we wrestled with how our institution could address it. We then formed a subcommittee to take the lead and, in response to information from the survey, expanded our scope, committing to address all forms of workplace harassment. We put in place a system for members to speak to an advocate confidentially, learn about their options, and receive support through every step of the process should they choose to pursue a report to human resources, or take legal action. And while details remain confidential, we have had success holding employers accountable. (If you’ve experienced harassment and would like to have a confidential conversation, please contact Shelagh Wagener at SWagener@wga.org.) Additionally, I advocated for a series of workshops where we could address the issue as a community. We used that process to collect your ideas and feedback for a set of Community Standards, and potential demands for the MBA. The legal responsibility for a safe workplace lies with our employers, and the power of the Guild enables us to hold them accountable. We must bring that power to bear on this issue.
In the spring of 2018, we shifted our primary focus to the AMBA. In deciding to give notice of termination in April, we knew that if the membership voted to impose the code, we would likely be firing our agents in the run up to staffing season. Several of us advocated for more focus and resources to be directed towards this piece of the strategy, believing we could and should be doing more, and another subcommittee was born. From the start, we knew that a core priority would be ensuring that this disruption did not erase the employment gains made by men of color, women, and LGBTQ writers. We designed the staffing portal with input from showrunners who’ve proven themselves leaders on inclusion. I drove the implementation process for the tool, managing the collaboration between leadership and staff, and organizing outreach. I have continued this role as we expand into the Staffing and Development Platform.
But we knew tech tools wouldn’t be enough to mitigate the disruption to staffing season, so I sought out writers who were already doing the work of organizing to serve their communities and looked for ways to support them with Guild resources. Two of them are running in this election, Zoe Marshall and Liz Alper. They have already proven themselves tireless advocates for writers and I hope you will support them. We need their energy, experience, and perspective on the board.
This next term, the board will turn its attention to the MBA. Over the last few negotiations, we have prioritized the issues of television writers in our pattern of demands. It is time to prioritize screen concerns. Foriegn box office residuals, one step deals, and free work are problems we absolutely must solve. Screenwriters have had television writers backs, now it’s time to return the favor. In addition to protecting screenwriters, my priorities for this MBA are improving the SVOD residual formula; script fees for staff writers; expansion of span protection; and as always, an increase in minimums and protection of pension and health. Additionally, I will advocate that we develop creative proposals to address the issues of diversity and inclusion, workplace safety, and the redefinition of back end profits.
This work of defining our pattern of demands will happen while the board continues to lead the struggle against agencies’ conflicted practices. We are more than capable of doing two things at once. In fact, addressing our economic well being on two fronts is what this moment requires. Vertical integration is a threat to our profession, whether it is a streaming service owning its content, or an agency owning a studio. All of it is bad for us. The status quo was never an option. The business was changing, with or without our collective power brought to bear. I will bet on us, always. I will come from courage, always.
In my first term, I have proven myself up to the task of leadership in unprecedented times. I hope you will see fit to return me to service, and I would be honored to have your endorsement
Over the last few cycles, you have elected active, passionate and engaged leaders who consistently go above and beyond the demands of board service to ensure that our Guild is evolving to meet the needs of membership and the realities of our business. We are a great team, and I wholeheartedly support reelection of all the incumbents.
I have never worked with anyone who takes criticism as well as David Goodman. He listens without knee jerk defensiveness, cops quickly to mistakes, and adjusts accordingly. He is kind, and he is brave. All of these are rare qualities in a leader.
I am a better board member because I have Luvh Rakhe as a partner. He is measured, deeply thoughtful, and always manages to hold the membership in the front of his mind as he grapples with complex issues. His voice and perspective are vital.
Marjorie David’s institutional knowledge, and stalwart commitment to all members is invaluable. We are lucky to have her.
Meredith Stiehm is fierce, intelligent, and fearless. She possesses a unique calm and clarity of purpose that are a valuable asset to every debate.
My most enduring and trusted partner in this work has been Michele Mulroney. She is an indispensable warrior for screenwriters, and an indefatigable force for getting shit done. I am in awe of what she’s accomplished in one term. It is the work of six women.
We all benefit from Nicole Yorkin’s steadfast commitment to whatever work is placed in front of us. She shows up, digs in, bringing to bear her many years of experience in service of writers.
You can view a list of my current endorsements here (currently in formation).