Speaking Friday at the Venice Film Festival press conference for Michel Franco’s “Memory,” Jessica Chastain urged other actors to “show up and support our union” by producing and promoting indie films under SAG-AFTRA’s interim agreements.
“I was incredibly nervous to be here today and to come here — and actually there are some people on my team who advised me against it,” she said.
The actress then reflected on how common a line it is for performers to be grateful for any success in a competitive, demanding industry and how that expectation commonly leads to silence in the face of institutional power.
“I’m very, very lucky — I’m very aware of how lucky I am. It’s a wonderful profession, what we get to do as actors, and we are quite often because of that made to feel like we have to be quiet in order to protect future working opportunities,” Chastain said. “And we are often told and reminded how grateful we should be. I mean, that is the environment that I think has allowed workplace abuse to go unchecked for many decades, and it’s also the environment that has saddled members of my union with unfair contracts.
“I am here because SAG-AFTRA has been explicitly clear that the way to support the strike is to post on social media, walk the picket lines and to work and support in interim agreement projects,” she continued. “It’s what our national board, our negotiating committee and our elected leadership has asked us to do.”
She then credited the filmmakers and producers present at festivals like Venice who have signed such an interim agreement with the union, and who have therefore shown their support of the dual strikes’ mission.
“When independent producers like the ones here of these films sign these interim agreements, they are letting the world know, letting the AMPTP know that actors deserve fair compensation, AI protections should be implemented and there should be sharing of streaming revenue,” she said. “And so I hope being here today encourages other independent producers and encourages actors to show up and support our union members. And hopefully, we’ll see an end to this strike soon and hopefully the AMPTP will go back to the table.”