Candidate for Council, Film/TV/Streaming Sector
I’m Hallie Haglund, and I’m humbled to be nominated for WGAE council. I’m also intimidated. Ever since my failed election bid for 5th grade student council treasurer, I’ve been afraid to run for anything. Guys, it was a real blood bath. But thirty years later, here I am: a comedy writer, primarily in comedy/variety, for programs like The Daily Show, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas, and The G-Word with Adam Conover, as well as developing my own scripted comedy. And after nearly two decades of subjecting myself to the relentless rejection of being a professional writer, I think my skin is finally thick enough to return to politics.
I have been a member of the WGAE since 2009, and first started engaging with guild action by volunteering as a mentor for the Writers Guild Initiative. Leading storytelling workshops for veterans, caretakers of wounded warriors, and people whose communities were devasted by Hurricane Sandy was wildly intense, but incredibly rewarding. My WGI experience allowed me to get to know people on the front lines of some of society’s most urgent crises, whose challenges luck had somehow shielded me from. As college essay-ish as it may sound, my WGI experience made me feel a lot more connected to the world.
The guild has given me so much, beyond just human connection. It’s given me a livable wage, residuals that have paid for my leaner years, health insurance for my entire family, a pension. Most recently, it also gave me paid parental leave, a vital gain from the 2020 MBA negotiations that allowed me to keep my head above water with two babies during a pandemic. With the lived experience of that win so fresh in my mind, I was eager to accept when asked to serve on this year’s MBA Negotiating Committee. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, being part of the 2023 Negotiating Committee has changed my life, and I believe that with what I’ve learned, I have a great deal to contribute to our council.
As I write this, we don’t yet know what victories we can claim from this year’s strike, but thanks to enormous cross-union solidarity and the tireless work of our membership, I have no doubt it will be industry-changing. For myself, getting the chance to serve alongside so many different kinds of writers helped me understand the challenges we face far beyond my tiny comedy/variety corner. From screenwriting, to scripted drama and comedy, to quiz shows, to daytime television, we all contend with endless free work that can keep us from meeting our yearly healthcare minimums. We face shrinking staff sizes and shorter contracts. We receive pitiful streaming residuals that make it impossible to save, with no account for whether our show was a platform’s biggest hit. In fact, on streaming platforms, some of us (including comedy/variety writers) have no protections at all.
It goes without saying that we must demand change from the AMPTP. But due to the unique nature of our guild, which includes the most seasoned showrunner to the greenest staff writer, there is also important work we can do amongst ourselves. We can continue to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. We can improve working conditions. We can help curb wage inequality. This is work I am committed to.
Finally, as a bicoastal writer currently living on the west coast, there’s a lot of work to be done for east members out west. So many people switch guilds when they come to LA because they feel cut off from other writers. But alongside other bicoastal WGAE council members like Kaitlin Fontana and Tian Jun Gu, we can bridge the gap between east and west, without having east transplants abandon our superior guild. That’s right, superior! I said it!
I feel enormous gratitude for this guild, and I am eager to give back. Please consider supporting me with your vote.
Endorsements: John August, Kay Cannon, Adam Conover, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Richard Dresser, Kaitlin Fontana, Greg Iwinski, Tian Jun Gu, Elliott Kalan, Christopher Kyle, Christine Nangle, Joseph Opio, Zhubin Parang, Erica Saleh, Sara Schaefer, Sasha Stewart, Michael Winship.