In the middle of its ongoing strike, SAG-AFTRA held its officer elections, and as expected, Fran Drescher was reelected president of the guild, easily defeating Maya Gilbert-Dunbar, who drew 5,276 votes compared to Drescher’s 23,080 votes.
Elsewhere, Joely Fisher was also reelected to serve as the guild’s secretary-treasurer, beating Peter Antico by more than 11,000 votes — 19,777 to 8,361.
Though Drescher and Fisher ran on a unity slate that swept the board, they weren’t always “teammates.” Two years ago, when Drescher was elected president as the industry was just starting to recover from the impact of the pandemic, the actress ran alongside Anthony Rapp, who was running for secretary-treasurer. Drescher narrowly defeated Matthew Modine — 16,958 votes to 15,371 — but Rapp lost to Fisher. The two have since put aside their differences and brokered a truce, with solidarity within SAG-AFTRA’s ranks more important than ever as the strike enters its 58th day.
“I am honored to serve my union as president for another term. These are dynamic times and as one member body, we will weather the storms, stand on our principles, and make sure our major contributions to this collaborative art form shall never again be diminished but rather be exalted,” Drescher said in a statement. “I want all members to be equal in all ways and I will continue to fight against marginalization and discrimination within our union, from our employers, and the world at large.”
“Our main objective as a labor union must be to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to work. Together, we will watch partisanship fade away as we develop a new culture of respect, patience, and understanding. Taking our time, speaking from the heart, and making decisions must be based on wisdom and not politics,” added Drescher. “Much has been accomplished in the past two years, but I feel great optimism that the next two will be our greatest ever! As we let go of tribalism and gain more empathy for one another, as we realize that with each experience comes opportunity to better ourselves on our journey of self-refinement, we will also enter a Golden Age for SAG-AFTRA.”
“In these challenging times, performers do what they’ve always done best: work together towards a common goal. I’m grateful for your trust in my work on behalf of my union siblings and steadfast in my commitment to you,” Fisher said in a statement of her own. “I want to acknowledge every member who recognized this auspicious moment and volunteered to serve. Your willingness to run for office and contribute is deeply appreciated by your union family. When we’re fighting against the entire show business establishment, the last thing we needed was to fight each other. I’m glad you all agree.”
“I’m overwhelmed by your unprecedented support and promise that president Drescher and I will move forward with the same commitment to unity exhibited in this election process and — finally — a decent contract,” added Fisher. “President Drescher and I are so thrilled to work alongside all of you as we usher in a new age for SAG-AFTRA — where we are all respected and sufficiently paid for our contribution to this industry.”
It was a tough day for Gilbert-Dunbar, who also lost her bid to serve as president of SAG-AFTRA’s local Los Angeles chapter, losing to incumbent Jodi Long by a vote of 6,631 to 3,543. She also missed out on seats on SAG-AFTRA’s national and L.A. Local boards, as did her husband, actor Rockmond Dunbar, though Gilbert-Dunbar did win a seat as a convention delegate. Dunbar ran for VP of the L.A. Local, losing to Sheryl Lee Ralph and David Jolliffe, who were elected first and second vice president, respectively.
Jennifer Beals topped the voting for SAG-AFTRA’s national board representing Los Angeles, where nearly half of the guild’s membership lives. She’ll be joined on the national board by Fisher, Long, and Joliffe, as well as Jane Austin, Joanna Cassidy, Frances Fisher, Elliot Gould, Michelle Hurd, A Martinez, Shaan Sharma, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and Lisa Ann Walter.
“I would like to congratulate all of our leaders elected today. I am excited to continue to work with President Drescher and Secretary-Treasurer Fisher,” read a statement from Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the national executive director of SAG-AFTRA. “The staff and I are eager to work with all of the elected leaders nationwide on the many union initiatives and goals that will be served by their leadership,” he added.
Only 22.84 percent of the guild’s 124,477 eligible members actually cast their ballots at a time when the membership is hyper-engaged, though that’s apparently in line with most SAG-AFTRA elections.