The SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes — which, among several other factors, aim to gain fair compensation for actors and writers in the streaming era — are still going strong. While all union members are supposed to participate, some have been called out for seemingly scabbing — essentially, crossing the picket line by working during the strike (including promoting struck work).
However, they are allowed to work on productions that have been given waivers for interim agreements. These projects must be fully independent of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and meet other requirements.
SAG-AFTRA has also provided an FAQ for influencers, who may one day aspire to join the actors union, asking them to not accept any promotional work for struck companies or posting on social media about struck content. The only exception is fulfilling contracts they signed before the strike began. If they go against these strike rules, they won't be allowed to join the union in the future.
Here are 13 celebrities and influencers who've either been accused of scabbing during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes or who've criticized the strike (and how they've responded to backlash):
1.Drew Barrymore — who previously showed her solidarity with striking writers by withdrawing as host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards — was criticized for resuming production on The Drew Barrymore Show while the strikes continue.
In an Instagram statement, she said, "I own this choice. We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind."
However, on Twitter, the WGA said, "The @DrewBarrymoreTV Show is a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers. The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on The Drew Barrymore Show is in violation of WGA strike rules."
According to the Hollywood Reporter, a pair of the show's audience members, Dominic Turiczek and Cassidy Carter, were allegedly removed from the audience for wearing WGA pins that picketers gave them on the way in.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the show told the Wrap, "It is our policy to welcome everyone to our show tapings. Due to heightened security concerns today, we regret that two audience members were not permitted to attend or were not allowed access. Drew was completely unaware of the incident, and we are in the process of reaching out to the affected audience members to offer them new tickets."
The show's decision to resume production caused Drew to lose her National Book Awards hosting gig.
In a Twitter statement, the National Book Foundation said, "The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture. In light of the announcement that The Drew Barrymore Show will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore's invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards ceremony. Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the Awards remains on celebrating writers and books, and we are grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation."
2.On his podcast Club Random, Bill Maher shared his thoughts on the writers strike. He said, "They're asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky. What I find objectionable about the philosophy of the strike [is] it seems to be, they have really morphed a long way from 2007's strike, where they kind of believe that you're owed a living as a writer, and you're not. This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league."
He also said, "I feel for my writers. I love my writers. I'm one of my writers. But there's a big other side to it. And a lot of people are being hurt besides them — a lot of people who don't make as much money as them in this bipartisan world we have where you’re just in one camp or the other, there's no in between."
A few weeks later, on Twitter, Bill announced that he'd be resuming production on his HBO talk show, Real Time with Bill Maher, "sans writers or writing."
He wrote, "The writers have important issues that I sympathize with, and hope they are addressed to their satisfaction, but they are not the only people with issues, problems, and concerns. Despite some assistance from me, much of the staff is struggling mightily. We all were hopeful this would come to an end after Labor Day, but that day has come and gone, and there still seems to be nothing happening. I love my writers, I am one of them, but I'm not prepared to lose an entire year and see so many below-the-line people suffer so much. I will honor the spirit of the strike by not doing a monologue, desk piece, New Rules or editorial, the written pieces that I am so proud of on Real Time. And I'll say it upfront to the audience: the show I will be doing without my writers will not be as good as our normal show, full stop. But the heart of the show is an off-the-cuff panel discussion that aims to cut through the bullshit and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint."
Countdown podcast host Keith Olbermann called him out, tweeting, "Without writers, the new weekly SCAB edition of Real Time With Bill Maher will be 83 seconds long. As somebody who's known you since 1978: Fuck you, Bill, you selfish and unfunny scumbag."
3.Selena Gomez — who previously shared a strike explainer video on her Instagram story — was called out for breaking SAG's rule against promoting or posting about struck work when she uploaded a behind-the-scenes video from Only Murders in the Building on Instagram and captioned it, "Missing and wanting @onlymurdershulu."
She also tagged the show's official Instagram account.
Some argued that her position as an executive producer on the show might give her a loophole, but others clarified that, since she's an actor, the post still violated the rules.
She ultimately deleted the post 15 hours later.
4.During a GalaxyCon Q&A, Arrow actor Stephen Amell said, "I support my union, I do, and I stand with them, but I do not support striking. I don't."
He continued, "I think it is a reductive negotiating tactic, and I find the entire thing incredibly frustrating. And I think the thinking as it pertains to shows like the show that I'm on, that premiered last night, I think it's myopic."
Following backlash from fans and costars alike, he joined fellow union members on the picket line.
In a statement, he said, "I understand fundamentally why we're here. My off the cuff use of the word 'support' is clearly contradictory to my true feelings and my emphatic statement that I stand with my union. Of course I don't like striking. Nobody does. But we have to do what we have to do."
5.Criticizing both sides of the strike and expressing her neutrality, Jamie Lee Curtis told Variety, "I'm hopeful that we can all see all sides. I'm more Switzerland. I'm not a polarized person here. I don't like the rhetoric on both sides."
She continued, "Any settlement means nobody's happy. So there will be a settlement, and not everyone will be happy. I don't like the them vs. us. The fact that there's a them and an us bothers me. It's one industry, and I hope that all of the sides can recognize the oneness of our industry, and that we are interdependent, and that AI is not interdependent, that human beings are and at the end of the day our interdependency with each other will prevail."
She also told Reuters, "The issues are real, and my hope is that no one will be happy with a settlement, but we will get back to work. That's just the nature of a settlement — both sides aren't happy. We're all gonna have to give up something to get something, and I hope that what we get to do, ultimately, is continue our work."
However, she later clarified her comments on Instagram, writing, "I FULLY SUPPORT the @sagaftra strike, have volunteered making signs multiple times and have donated to the relief fund. I SUPPORT the leadership and SUPPORT our demands."
"I'm a rank-and-file union member. I am not on any negotiating committee. I believe we have to look at all sides in any conflict in order to find resolution, solution and a fair and equitable settlement. Can we end this now and not turn this into some ridiculous news cycle story AND GET BACK TO THE TABLE AND NEGOTIATE?" she said.
6.At Comic-Con Manchester, Shazam actor Zachary Levi said, "I'm not allowed to talk about — this is so dumb. I'm not allowed to talk about any of my previous work. I'm not allowed to talk about movies that I may be a superhero in."
He continued, "I'm not allowed to talk about TV shows that I may have been a nerd who worked at a Best Buy. I'm not allowed to talk about any animated princess movies that I was fantastic in as the best prince ever. I'm not allowed to talk about those things."
Following backlash, he released a statement, telling Deadline, "It's come to my attention that an offhand remark I made in jest last weekend is being taken out of context. So let me be very clear. I fully support my union, the WGA, and the strike. I remain an outspoken critic of the exploitative system that us artists are subject to work in since I started my journey in this business 25 years ago."
"This strike is necessary to protect ourselves, our writers, and all those working in production who make the industry move," he said. "But we also cannot forget our fans during this strike. Fans that spend their money and energy traveling far distances to talk with us about our work that means so much to them, we should be able to engage. Our business exists and succeeds because of the fans, and I think it's imperative we appreciate them for their support of our careers."
7.Early in the SAG strike, Brad Pitt was accused of scabbing because Apex, the upcoming Formula 1 movie he's producing and starring in, continued filming with non-union actors.
Fans shared their concern after his fellow producer, Lewis Hamilton, told the press, "Fortunately for us, you can see the team is here, APX is here, and we're still filming luckily with the drivers that we have. So hopefully we can continue to still get some important parts of the filming done."
According to the Race, at the time, Brad had finished all of his scenes before the strike began, and "there are no SAG actors working on the project in Hungary so no picket lines have been crossed."
However, following criticism, Brad reportedly halted production in order to show solidarity with his striking peers.
A source allegedly told the Sun, "Postponing the production was a massive call, especially financially, but Brad has listened to the concerns of the people he works with and wants to show his support."
8.Kim Kardashian was called out for physically crossing the WGA picket line to get to the American Horror Story set.
On Twitter, WGA strike captain T Cooper wrote, "It doesn't appear that @KimKardashian is a friend of the labor movement. She just now crossed our picket line to work on Ryan Murphy’s @AHSFX Hamptons, shooting here on 52nd in NYC."
In a since-deleted tweet, WGA strike captain Warren Leight alleged he'd been told by members of the show's crew that, if they don't cross the picket line, "they'll be blackballed in [Ryan] Murphy-land."
However, series co-creator Ryan Murphy's spokesperson denied this, calling the claims "absolute nonsense" and "categorically false."
When she tweeted from the set, writers reminded her about the ongoing strike in the replies.
Striking in support of our union. Thanks for crossing our line.
— Jorge A. Reyes (@JorgeCoolReyes) June 23, 2023
9.On Facebook, actor Wil Wheaton called out Ken Jennings for continuing to host Jeopardy amid the strikes. He wrote, "This is a VERY small town, Ken Jennings, and we will all remember this. Your privilege may protect you right now, but we will *never* forget."
In a follow-up edit, he added, "This is getting more attention than I expected or wanted, and I don't want this to be about me being disappointed by a choice Ken Jennings made. I want attention and energy focused on supporting the writers who are fighting for their professional existence, opposed by billionaires who are keen to ruin my entire industry."
Ken's decision was contrasted by that of cohost Mayim Bialik, who reportedly stepped down from Jeopardy in solidarity with the striking writers.
Ken responded to further criticism from fans by sharing a screenshot of Sony Pictures' official statement on the matter and highlighting a line about how the show continued airing during the 2007–2008 writers strike.
His Omnibus podcast cohost, John Roderick, defending him on Facebook, writing, "If you look at SAG-AFTRA rules, there are contractual carve-outs for daytime television and game shows specifically. Ken is a member of SAG in good standing. Everyone in Hollywood is aware that different unions have different rules and different contracts apply differently to different jobs. Ken is not a scab, and anyone who says so is ignorant of how unions work. It amazes me that so many people who think they are supporting labor by yelling scab on a public forum are just revealing they have no idea how organized labor functions."
10.On TikTok, movie content creator Juju Green, aka @Straw_Hat_Goofy, was called out over a sketch joking that he planned to continue accepting brand deals from film companies because he's not a union member.
In another video, he said, "Here's how the strike will be affecting my content. The answer is: very little. I am not an actor, nor am I a writer. Therefore, my job doesn't overlap with those that the writers and actors can't do during the strike."
However, following criticism over the "insensitive" TikTok, he deleted it. He told NBC News, "I removed that skit and apologized for any hurt it caused. Once clear official information was released from SAG, I complied with all regulations and will not be taking any new work from struck companies until the strike is resolved and the union gets a fair deal."
"I stand with SAG-AFTRA," he said.
11.On TikTok, Collin Everett, aka @collinurrmom, shared that he was working with a company to develop and star in his own TV show. In a since-deleted follow-up video responding to criticism, he said, "I don't care if Hollywood is striking right now. I'm not union. I'm not part of the union. I'm never gonna be. I don't care if they label me a scab."
He continued, "The fact that they refer to non-union actors as scabs says a lot about their character. I'm gonna work. There are a lot of people who would be so happy to take the places of all these actors. ... I'm going for independent film over anything Hollywood is making."
Replying to a commenter who asked about the writers strike on the original video, he said, "This company isn’t Hollywood, nor are they in California. Independent companies can still work on projects, bc they're non-union."
In another since-deleted follow-up video, he said, "I'll be the leader of the scabs! People don't understand that I'm a rebel at heart, but I'm a rebel for God; not for man. My agenda opposes Hollywood directly. I love the power of cinema, but I will not use its power for evil or pure entertainment. I'm in this to make a SPLASH!"
Following intense backlash across TikTok, he told Rolling Stone, "Taking work from union workers is not my intent. I was unintentionally misleading in my video, and people understandably got upset based off what I said."
He also told the New York Times, "I spoke way too soon on my page and upset a lot of people. I do not believe that I am scabbing."
Additionally, he released an apology video for "stating [himself] so poorly."
12.On TikTok, Fedha Sinon, aka PinkyDoll, said, "Guess who is going to Hollywood baby? To Hollywood! Yes, it's your girl right here, it's your girl right here. ... That shit about to be popping, because when I come in here, [I'm] gonna take somebody's spot!"
She continued, "[I'm] gonna take your spot, so you better secure your spot because I'm coming for it."
Across social media, fans accused her of scabbing for taking a Hollywood job during the strike, especially because of her comments about taking "somebody's spot."
We regret to inform you that PinkyDoll is a scab pic.twitter.com/lSuC193Zrm
— Ancommie🏴🏳️🌈 (@Ancommiey) July 22, 2023
@pinkydollreal / Via Twitter: @Ancommiey
13.And finally, YouTuber and singer Andra Gogan faced scabbing accusations after posting two TikToks — one showing her outfit for the Haunted Mansion premiere, and another from the red carpet.
After being called out across TikTok, she deleted both videos.
Danielle Silverstone, a content creator who aspires to join SAG, told the Daily Dot, "By technical definition terms, I don’t think [Andra] was scabbing, because if she’s non-union, none of the rules apply. But since she's hoping to join the union, it might."
Other influencers have been called out for attending movie premieres during the strike by the TikTok account Scabs of TikTok.