December 2, 2023

Hollywood is at a standstill. The Writers Guild of America, the union that represents 16,000 screenwriters, and the Display Actors Guild – American Federation of Tv and Radio Artists, representing 160,000 actors, are each on strike in opposition to the Alliance of Movement Image and Tv Producers. These are the writers and actors who make your favourite TV reveals and films, like Ted Lasso, Oppenheimer and numerous different productions, but the overwhelming majority of them live from paycheck to paycheck.

The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are combating for lots of the similar points. They search protections in opposition to quickly growing artificial-intelligence know-how and try to make sure dwelling wages for his or her members. With the explosion of streaming companies, the writers and actors have seen their paychecks and residuals dwindle. 

The WGA has been on strike since Could 2, and SAG-AFTRA since July 14. I chatted with WGA members David Radcliff and Jamey Perry, each wheelchair customers, about why the strike is necessary to disabled writers. Perry is vice chair of the WGA’s Disabled Writers Committee, which works to advance the visibility and employment of disabled writers. Radcliff is the DWC’s co-chair, alongside fellow co-chair Shea Mirzai. 

Teal Sherer: David, weren’t you working as a workers author on the brand new CBS present Tracker when the WGA strike began? 

David Radcliff: Sure, we had been actually plotting my episode. The best way our writers’ room is about up is, whoever’s episode is being labored on is main the room that day. Our final day was a bizarre expertise, as a result of I knew all people was eager about the strike. We’d anticipated a strike was coming, and no one needed to consider Act 3 of my episode, or a twist — as a result of we had been all ready for the twist in actual lifetime of, “Ha, you don’t have a job anymore.” 

TS: How has the rise of streaming affected the writers? 

DR: With the rise of streaming companies, cash earned from artistic content material isn’t trickling to the precise creators of the content material. For a few years, it was very potential for a author to work constantly, 12 months after 12 months after 12 months, on community reveals and get residuals. There was once 20 or 22 episodes a season. I keep in mind X-Information was doing 24, 25 episodes a 12 months — and that present went for 9 years. Now you will have a present on Netflix and your season is eight or 10 episodes lengthy, no actual residuals, and also you’re in all probability going to get cancelled after two seasons.  

Jamey Perry: Writers’ rooms have additionally turn out to be smaller. There may be an abuse of one thing known as “mini rooms,” which include small teams of writers to work out a complete season of a collection earlier than that present is even formally (greenlighted). As a result of these rooms are smaller, and aren’t formally rooms, they are often held for affordable, and have a tendency to depart out quite a lot of newer expertise. There may be actually now not a middle-class TV author or screenwriter in our trade. There are folks on the very high. After which there’s nearly all people else simply completely scrambling on the backside. 

Two wheelchair users, a woman on the left and a man on the right, with a nondisabled man in between look at the camera. The nondisabled man holds a sign that says, "On strike"!
Jamey Perry (left), Shea Mirzai (heart) and David Radcliff (proper) chair the Disabled Writers Committee for the Writers Guild of America.

TS: What impression is that this having on disabled writers? 

DR: These points impression underrepresented communities to an exponential diploma. Of the few disabled writers who’re working, we have a tendency to finish up on the decrease ranges, after which simply keep there for some time, even when we’re fortunate. I’m doing a workers author job for the third time — that’s nearly 38 episodes of tv at an entry-level job. It’s exhausting to level to disabled of us who’re on the higher ranges — upper-levels being the oldsters who make massive selections about story and about casting and about every part. A lot of that is intersectional too. Should you’re a Black disabled girl, your odds of being in a writers’ room are even much less. 

JP: It additionally makes it even tougher for disabled expertise to interrupt into the sphere. Smaller writers’ rooms imply showrunners are much less prone to take possibilities on new expertise. We’re additionally battling ableism. Although round 25% of Individuals determine as having a incapacity, we’re lower than 1% of the Writers Guild. That’s clearly a results of systemic ableism. To consider in any other case could be to consider that disabled folks can’t write, don’t have any tales to inform, or usually are not good in a writers’ room. 

TS: You each have been lively on the picket traces, and also you all organized the Incapacity Writes picket in June on the Sony lot. How was that? 

DR: Energizing. There have been over 100 folks there. There was one thing type of highly effective, having low-vision folks, folks in wheelchairs, neurodivergent folks, and people who find themselves Deaf multi function area. There have been SAG-AFTRA disabled actors there, supporting us, even earlier than their very own strike. We’ve already had requests to do one other picket and would like to plan a joint occasion with SAG-AFTRA, now that each guilds have struck.  

JP: One of many coolest elements in regards to the picket was that Margaret Nagle, a nondisabled WGA member who’s an actual ally, helped sponsor an accessible rest room truck from (California-based nonprofit) Momentum. … Their vans are particularly made for the leisure trade as a result of, as we all know, accessible bogs aren’t at all times on units. I’ve needed to crawl up steps to make use of a toilet. This truck prices $2,900 a day. That’s just like the bagel funds of a big-budget present. So, right here’s your affordable lodging. 

TS: Why ought to folks with disabilities help the strike? How can they assist? 

DR: The end result of this strike units a path for labor in different industries too. We’re aiming to construct a extra equitable trade that has room for a broad spectrum of voices and pays them pretty. To develop careers, we’d like a more healthy trade that fosters area and alternative. In any other case, disabled folks will probably be among the many first to be squeezed out, and probably to get replaced by synthetic intelligence that can work for affordable.  

JP: An enormous a part of any strike is the general public relations battle, and that’s occurring on social media. So, you’ll be able to put up positively in regards to the guild, or you’ll be able to amplify what different individuals are sharing and retweet. You may as well donate to Leisure Neighborhood Fund, which supplies monetary help to putting writers and actors, or to the World Harvest Meals Financial institution, which is offering free groceries to putting writers and actors in Los Angeles. And anyone can come out and picket with us. No one goes to take a look at you bizarre — you’ll simply get high-fives all day. 

You may comply with the WGA on Instagram, Fb and Twitter. To be taught extra or donate to Leisure Neighborhood Fund and World Harvest Meals Financial institution, go to and