Candidate for Council, Film/TV/Streaming Sector (i)
I’m Sasha Stewart and I’m running to be re-elected as a councilmember in the Film, Television, and Streaming sector.
Y’all, I have a hard time saying “no” when it comes to the WGA. The Guild has given me my health insurance, my career, and my friends, so every time I’m asked to help, I jump at it. It’s pretty much my 2nd job… which, like a lot of the development work I’ve done, is also unpaid.
In addition to being on council, I’m a co-lead of the Women’s Salon (as of June 2023), Co-Chair of WGA/PGA Climate Storytelling Working Group, a member of WGAE’s Committee for Inclusion and Equity, a member of the WGAE Audio Alliance, and a 2023 Strike Captain and Picket Captain. I also initiated and have been organizing our WGAE theme pickets alongside many wonderful writers and Guild staff. They’ve been a fantastic way to show off our solidarity and also our sweat.
As awful as it is to strike, it’s been so rewarding to see our collective power, strength, and solidarity in action. If you elect me for another term, I am dedicated to ensuring that this collective power and momentum translates into more gains for our members after the strike.
Sorry about the mask in my photo, but I figured if you’ve been to the NYC picket lines, then this is how you’ll best recognize me (well, this plus a bullhorn). I’ve got a good reason to wield that bullhorn, and it’s not just because I love shouting.
In 2014, I joined the Guild. It was right as streaming was starting to break our industry. When The Nightly Show (my first Guild job) was canceled, I went from a well-paying late-night career to long stretches of unemployment interspersed with streaming gigs that, while emotionally fulfilling, paid less than half or even a quarter of what I made in cable TV. My residuals from Nightly on Comedy Central earned me an extra year of health coverage. My residuals from Amend (my next big job) on Netflix don’t even pay into our health & pension fund. When I finally broke into scripted comedy last year, I thought I had found a path to steady work. Instead, I discovered just how challenging it’s been for scripted writers, as well. That’s my selfish reason why I’ve been shouting so hard on the picket lines: I need good, union health insurance. I’ve got two bum kidneys (and a spare donated from my aunt) and a history of cancer, so health insurance literally keeps me alive, and I really love living! I will do whatever it takes to get it. For me, and for you.
My goal for MBA-covered writers is to build more pathways to making that $41k a year every year. And for nonfiction TV and podcast writers, my goal is to unionize your shops so that your health coverage remains secure. Here are a few ways I want to tackle this:
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – We need to ensure that post-strike, the marginalized writers who fought so hard to break in get to stay in, ensure that writers don’t get stuck repeating lower levels (anyone else been a staff writer multiple times? Yeah, me, too), and not let the studios get away with abandoning their DEI pledges.
Free Development Work – We’ve all been asked to write a “pitch” (really, a treatment) over months or years for no pay. These are violations of the MBA, but enforcement has been difficult because we’ve been focusing on the individual. With our collective solidarity post-strike, we can work toward a winnable enforcement campaign.
Organizing in Animation and Fiction Podcasts – We have too many talented members with no union protections, simply because they are writing for animation or fiction podcasts. Shop by shop, job by job, we’re ready to change that.
Organizing and Supporting Our Members in Nonfiction Podcasts and Nonfiction TV – In addition to organizing new shops, we also need to ensure we’re protecting our current members. Like the ones Spotify so cruelly laid off when they gutted Gimlet and Parcast. We cannot let corporate greed run rampant—not in film/TV/streaming and not in podcasting.
I’m proud to have been endorsed by members (below) who write features, comedy/variety, scripted television, and podcasts. And I’m proud of what council accomplished in my first term:
- We prepared for our 2023 MBA Negotiations over a year in advance, engaging members, training captains, and ensuring our proposals reflect gains for everyone in the membership—feature writers, comedy/variety writers, and scripted TV writers.
- We implemented an organizing plan that has led to new organizing across all sectors and includes new nonfiction TV and podcast shops getting covered—hello, BSTV, Jigsaw, Pineapple Street Studios, and Crooked Media!
- We stood with our Hearst members at multiple rallies to ensure they finally won their fair deal after nearly three (!) years. Did I specifically shame Hearst management on a Zoom call for taking longer to make a fair deal than it took my hair to grow back after chemo? Yes, I did. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
- We stood with the GMG workers during their successful strike. And now our online media members are standing with us during ours. We love to see it!
I would be honored to have your vote and continue to fight for you for another two years. See y’all on the picket lines!
I am endorsed by Nick Bernardone, Laura Canty Samuel, Nate Charny, Micharne Cloughley, Kerry Coddett, Geri Cole, Nicole Conlan, Sean Crespo, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Lawrence Dai, Bonnie Datt, Alyssa DiMari, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Kaitlin Fontana, Madeleine George, Josh Gondelman, Dylan Guerra, Hallie Haglund, Bethany Hall, Liz Hara, Liz Hynes, Greg Iwinski, Jordana Jason, Dru Johnston, Hillary Jordan, Tian Jun Gu, Jay Katsir, Taylor Kay Phillips, Matt Klinman, Chris Kyle, Sarah Montana, Michael Pielocik, Sahar Rizvi, Erica Saleh, Meredith Scardino, Marjorie Sweeney, Felipe Torres Medina, Jenny Turner Hall, Jill Twiss, Natasha Vaynblat, Kate Villa, Holly Walker, Suzanne Weber, Matt Whitaker, Sabrina Wu, Alison Zeidman, Moujan Zolfaghari, and Keisha Zollar
* (i) denotes incumbent