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GLAAD Media Awards, Jon Stewart shows solidarity with writers’ strike: “Labor issues are strange issues”


The 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York also served as a show of solidarity with the Writers Guild of America’s ongoing strike on Saturday night, as Jon Stewart, Fire Island writer-star Joel Kim Booster, GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre all shared messages of support before and during the show.

Stewart, who won for Best Variety or Talk Show Episode with Apple TV+s The problem with Jon Stewart, was one of the first winners of the evening to make a statement. The writer, producer and actor did not appear on the show to collect his award, while Alex Schmider, GLAAD’s director of transgender representation, took the stage to collect on Stewart’s behalf.

“Jon is a member of the WGA. Otherwise he would be here,” Schmider said. “GLAAD, of course, stands behind Jon and all WGA writers. Fair pay, fair working conditions and queer representation in writers’ rooms are urgent and necessary issues facing this industry.”

The statement was met with loud applause, as were many of the expressions of solidarity at the nearly three-hour event at the Hilton Midtown. Ahead of Stewart’s statement, presenter and What we do in the shadows star Harvey Guillén issued a statement on behalf of GLAAD, clarifying that the event was “not a WGA show.”

“It’s a fundraiser for GLAAD, a non-profit organization powered by your contributions,” he continued. “But we stand in solidarity with the guild writers, especially those who get LGBTQ shows and characters on the air.”

Later in the evening, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took a moment from her speech, which focused more broadly on discussing the importance of LGBTQ representation across sectors and support for the trans youth of the country, to note how important it is to show support for writers.

“I want to say something very important. Nights like this are the reminder of stories and the importance of treating storytellers with dignity, respect and the value they deserve. I sincerely hope that the writers’ strike is resolved and that the writers get the fair deal they deserve as soon as possible.”

She added, “We need all the writers and workers and everyone involved to tell the stories of our country and the stories of all of us.”

In accepting the Best Streaming/TV Movie award on behalf of the Fire Island cast, writer and star Joel Kim Booster shared that he was “so proud to be a member of the Writers Guild of America,” drawing thunderous applause, before adding that writing has not only been “just a hobby, but life-changing ” for me.”

“I hope you will stand in solidarity with us as we move forward in this,” he continued. “Labour problems are strange issues.”

On the red carpet of the event Fire Island director Andrew Ahn also showed support for the WGA strike and Booster, tellingly The Hollywood Reporter that the work stoppage is about finding ways to support voices that have been marginalized and “were the first to be hit, so let’s find a way to avoid that.”

“I think the US is built on capitalism and systemic racism and I think what the writers’ strike is trying to do is make this about artists, make this about people, about creating a livelihood for us to thrive and to succeed and not just be about dollars and cents,” he said. “So for me I am not part of the WGA, but I think it is so important that we support the WGA. WGA strong for me.”

Bob the Drag Queen provided a long-term perspective leading up to their outstanding reality series win Were heresaying, “This is one of those things that people might take a pay cut for now or lose money on these things, but eventually we’ll reap the benefits, and that’s really important.”

In anticipation of a spectacular speech that appealed The New York Times coverage of the trans community and Bob Iger and Disney’s ongoing battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, GLAAD’s CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis also spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the strike’s significance for Hollywood’s LGBTQ writers and stories.

“Until we all have a fair and equal place at the table, we need to see more,” she explained. “Hollywood is always looking for the next great story – the new way to tell a story – and yet they stick with the same old, same old. These people are bringing new stories and new ways of telling stories and I think an industry would invite that, not shut it out.”

The 2023 GLAAD Media Awards in New York honored Maren Morris and Jonathan Van Ness with special awards and featured a performance by Idina Menzel singing her new single “Move”.

More to come.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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