Fran Drescher elected President of National SAG-AFTRA

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From The Nanny to the President. Fran Drescher and Joely Fisher have been chosen by SAG-AFTRA’s national membership to fill the respective roles of president and secretary-treasurer, two of the union’s highest-ranking offices. Their two-year terms began immediately upon the certification of the ballot count today. 

A total of 122,154 ballots were mailed. Of the total number of votes, 32,362 were returned, equating to a return of 26.49%. In the election for president, Drescher received 16,958 votes, followed by Matthew Modine with 15,371 votes. For the post of secretary-treasurer, Fisher received 18,547 votes, followed by Anthony Rapp with 13,593 votes.

“I am honored to serve my union in this capacity. Together we will navigate through these troubled times of global health crisis and together we will rise up out of the melee to do what we do best, entertain and inform.”

Fran Dresher

Drescher added: “Our chosen professions within the SAG-AFTRA membership have literally gotten Americans to laugh, to learn, to momentarily escape that we are all in a pandemic. We members serve an invaluable purpose in the grand scheme of things. We must never forget who we are and what unites us as one union.

“Today marks the beginning of a fresh start, let us forge forward in a holistic and non-partisan ascension towards the precipice of a new dawn. Only as a united front will we have strength against the real opposition in order to achieve what we all want: more benefits, stronger contracts and better protections. Let us lock elbows and together show up with strength at the negotiating table! If you voted for my opponent, I want you to know we were never far apart in our objectives. I promise you, if you give me the chance, I will listen to you and fight like hell to give you what you have been wanting. And may we all continue to shine a light on all the worried viewers across the nation and around the world with our talents.”

(Fran Dresher, Joely Fisher)

“To our members, I want to thank you for your vote of confidence. I look forward to getting us back to solid financial footing and to be a part of strong negotiations moving forward,” said Fisher. “It is bittersweet that my running mate, Matthew Modine, won’t be by my side, but I will work to uphold our vision of bettering our union. I will hold Fran Drescher to her promise to us to protect the members and put more money in our pockets through stronger contract negotiations.” 

Fisher added: “Again, I want to thank you for entrusting me with the stewardship of this union. Let’s get to work to bridge the divide and make the lives of our sisters and brothers in our SAG-AFTRA union family better.”

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland congratulated Drescher and Fisher on their elections, saying “I look forward to working closely with Fran Drescher and Joely Fisher as they assume their positions at such a critical moment in our union’s storied history. We have an extensive agenda to pursue on behalf of our members and, with President Drescher, Secretary-Treasurer Fisher, the rest of our National Board and a deeply talented team of local leaders, I am confident we will marshal the energy, initiative and focus to improve the lives of SAG-AFTRA’s membership. I also want to thank the thousands of SAG-AFTRA members who cast a vote in the election, because participation in the democratic process is the ultimate endorsement of the confidence placed in the union’s leaders and staff who work every day on behalf of performers.”

Outgoing President, Gabrielle Carteris, issued this statement:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As SAG-AFTRA transitions to a new leadership team, I wanted to thank each of you for allowing me the honor of serving as your president for more than five years. It has been a time of great change for our profession. We challenged an in-the-shadows culture of sexual harassment head-on and navigated the rapid expansion of streaming services, changes in media ownership, and the scores of new content platforms that employ us. We have journeyed through some very challenging times together, from holding the longest strike in our union’s history and gaining secondary payments in video games to organizing Telemundo — our first television network in 50 years. 

We fought to end sexual assault and the abuses of hyper-exposed work, and reached new milestones in our ongoing effort to end the systemic biases within our industry and the union itself. While organizing, enforcing and protecting, we have been faced with perhaps the biggest challenge of all: a pandemic. Despite all of this, we continue to prevail and move forward. That is due to you. 

Twelve years ago, when I began service in both our legacy unions, I did not aspire to be president. During the 2016 Commercials Contracts negotiations, when my friend and mentor, SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard, unexpectedly passed away, the door to the office opened, and you brought me in. It has been an incredible, life-changing journey. I thank you for your support and inspiration. 

New technologies are dramatically changing our work; that is inevitable. I urge us all to continue to find ways to adapt and grow, even when it is frightening. We must always stand together, raise each other up, learn from each other and refuse to let those who would degrade what we build tear us down and dishearten us. If we continue being strategic, thoughtful and collaborative, I believe we will continue to grow stronger and further expand our protection of SAG-AFTRA members. As Rachel Lambert Mellon said, “Part of creating is understanding there is more to do; nothing is ever completely finished.”  

Though I am stepping down from the office of the president, I am always standing by your side.”

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Drescher rose to international stardom for her portrayal of The Nanny, which she also co-created and executive produced. The multi-award-winning and nominated actress/comedienne founded the non-profit Cancer Schmancer to educate and empower people after she survived cancer. As an advocate, she has been responsible for unanimous passage of a bill in Congress, has made multiple trips to Capitol Hill to lobby for health issues, and was appointed Public Diplomacy Envoy for the U.S. State Department during the administrations of Presidents Bush ‘43 through Obama ‘44. Currently she is writing the book for the theatrical musical The Nanny and returns to voice her role in Hotel Transylvania 4. She will also portray Kat Dennings’ mother on Dollface in its upcoming 2nd season.

With her election, Fisher continues a family tradition of union service, a path blazed by her mother, Connie Stevens, who served as secretary-treasurer for the Screen Actors Guild. Beginning in 1994, Fisher played the role of Paige Clark in Ellen, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress, Series, Mini-Series or Television Film.

Her extensive film career includes multiple television and film roles, including Inspector Gadget, Growing Pains, Grace Under Fire and The Outer Limits. She has also appeared on stage in Cabaret and Grease.

The executive vice president, as well as the seven category and geographical vice presidents, will be elected by delegates at SAG-AFTRA’s biennial convention, which will be held October 15–18 and take place virtually to ensure the safety and health of all delegates.

A complete list of results of National Board and local elections can be found here.