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How I Feel About the WGA/SAG-AFTRA Strike As a Film Student

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

As I ended my second year of college in May, working intensely in my broadcast news production class, the word spread fast at my school about the possibility of a strike among Hollywood Writers. Without writers, you can’t have film or television, period point blank. So, as a film student with an emphasis on screenwriting, I was captivated by how all the writers united to fight for what they deserved, but at the same time, it felt as if I was watching the industry I wanted to have a career in virtually shut down. To take it even further, I saw how poorly these multimillion-dollar companies treated these individuals doing the exact job I was aspiring to do.  

Fast forward to the end of September. I’m over a month into my third year of college, and very little progress (if any) has been made. The Hollywood strike has worsened since, over the summertime, the actors also stood in solidarity with the writers and went on strike too. So Hollywood is without its writers, actors, and the numerous other performers covered by SAG-AFTRA.

This monumental event in the entertainment industry made me reevaluate if this was indeed the right path for me. Did I want to experience this level of uncertainty in my career? Do I want to leave my faith in financial security in the hands of highly paid executives who see me as just another number? If I don’t want to be part of the Hollywood writers, what would I do instead?

I’ve learned a few things after months of keeping up with this strike and talking to other film students. The strike was a necessary action despite its negative consequences. This strike could turn attention away from multimillion-dollar companies that refuse to compensate their union members. Instead, this could bring awareness to smaller, more independent entertainment companies who have been able to keep producing film/television because they have continued to compensate their union members correctly.

My next realization is that for students like me, who haven’t gotten into the industry yet, this could motivate us to primarily focus on being self-employed or create a production/entertainment company with other students we network with and trust. Being self-employed, you can set your own standards and have all the creative freedom in the world; the sky is the limit. This idea excites me because if you find the right people with the knowledge and motivation to complete the work, your team will be unstoppable, and you never know where it could take you. 

My last thought is quite simple: The WGA/SAG-AFTRA strike was long overdue. In the new world where cable television is dead and streaming services are thriving, the addition of AI is rapidly growing and sneaking its way into nearly every professional space. This strike needed to happen because we had to reevaluate how we pay these union members and ensure their labor rights are protected. 

If you want to learn more about the WGA/SAG-AFTRA strike, please visit the websites listed below.

https://www.wga.org

https://www.sagaftra.org

Starr Washington is a member of the Her Campus National Writer Program, contributing to the lifestyle vertical. She also serves as the President of the Her Campus Chapter at her university. Currently a senior at San Francisco State University, Starr is pursuing a degree in Broadcast Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) with a minor in Africana Studies. Following her undergraduate studies, she plans to pursue an MFA in creative writing. Starr is dedicated to showcasing her blackness in her professional work and is always rooting for black creatives, particularly in film, literature, and travel. In addition to her writing, Starr works at her university’s multicultural center, where she organizes annual events for both the campus and the Bay Area community. She was a speaker at the San Francisco State University Black Studies Origins and Legacy Commemoration, where she had the honor of sitting alongside the founders of the country's first Black Student Union. Starr teaches a course she developed called “Intro to Black Love” within SFSU’s experimental college program. In her rare free time, Starr enjoys chipping away at her TBR list (she finishes one book, then adds three more to the list), writing poetry and fiction, and spending time with her music enthusiast partner and their three-year-old German Shepherd. She is a Scorpio from Michigan.