“I am a writer who is currently on strike,” said mega-producer and Queen Charlotte showrunner Shonda Rhimes told an intimate audience Wednesday at New York’s Midnight Theater as part of her BAFTA tribute.
Rhimes responded to a question from moderator and journalist Wajahat Ali, who had asked her if she supported striking writers and what she would say to her fellow writers who spent the past two days on the picket lines as part of the first strike in 15 years . Members of the Writers Guild of America began striking on Tuesday after the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to reach a new deal by the May 1 deadline.
“I really wish we didn’t have to go on strike, and I feel the pain of the people affected by the strike, but to me it’s much more important that writers get paid for what they do. important,” writes the writer, producer and TV maker behind hit shows like Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and that of Netflix Bridgerton said. “For someone to devalue art is bad enough as it is now. That happens everywhere. But for writers, it’s a problem not being able to earn a living wage while making a television show or making a movie.”
The comments from Rhimes, who extended her deal with the streamer in 2021, came hours before her Bridgerton spinoff Queen Charlotte would appear on Netflix. They also arrive on the same day as members of WGA — with support from stagehands from IATSE Local One, musicians from Local 802 AFM, and members of SAG-AFTRA — picked up outside Netflix’s New York headquarters as part of a series of protests demanding better wages. requirements and contract language around AI for the union’s 11,500 members.
During Wednesday’s Netflix protest, Cynthia Nixon, Bowen Yang, Ilana Glazer, Jeremy O. Harris and Matt Rogers were among the notable faces to show their support for the guild’s work stoppage. Members such as Greg Iwinski, a former writer for Last week tonight with John Oliver and a negotiator for WGA, as well as Steve Bodow, former executive producer of The daily show like Patriot Act with Hasan Minhajalso spoke about recent comments from Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos on the company’s April 18 earnings call.
“If there is, we have a host of upcoming shows and movies from around the world. We could probably serve our members better than most,” Sarandos said in response to how the streamer would handle the strike. For Bodow, it was “pointing to the problem, not the solution.”
“The fact that we’ve stocked this stuff with streaming is one of the biggest structural changes that’s happened in the industry since the last strike, and that’s a big part of why we have to do this,” he said.
For Iwinksi, Sarandos’ comment was odd, given that Netflix and other streamers are partnering with major studios that have more urgency to end the strike quickly. “It’s very interesting to me that one partner says, ‘Actually, we’re fine with a strike,’ when there are others who have Upfronts and need to sell ads this week and have fall schedules that need to be filled now. And have late night shows that don’t air,” Iwinski shared The Hollywood Reporter.
As part of the writers’ strike, the WGA has called on studios to not only increase writer pay, but also institute staffing requirements, better residuals, and shorter exclusivity deals — both issues that have cropped up since the rise of streaming.
During the rest of the 40-minute chat, Rhimes talked about how her experiences growing up in Chicago, her family’s philosophies, attending schools like USC, and getting an internship at Denzel Washington’s production company shaped her career. Rhimes noted that seeing black women like author Toni Morrison, Oprah, and Whoopi Goldberg as she grew up made her believe her dreams were possible.
She also talked about her experience entering the TV industry, not knowing anyone and having no mentors. While Rhimes spoke of other people who had been her confidants, she said she ultimately believed that a mentor didn’t have to be a single person, but could be other people’s stories. Diversity and inclusion was a recurring theme throughout the evening, with Rhimes discussing how she creates her diverse writer’s rooms, the financial success of several stories, and why she thinks she shouldn’t tell white showrunners how to do better.
Shondaland’s CEO was the first recipient of the BAFTA Special Award, which recognizes people who have made “significant, inspiring and outstanding contributions to film, games and TV” since 2019. event – a return of BAFTA’s in-person awards shows in North America – included a cocktail reception for an invited industry audience.
More to come…