Why Esai Morales as President of SAG-AFTRA is a Big Win for the Industry and its Fans

Esai Morales, is a man known in Hollywood as a peaceful warrior with an artist's heart. In four decades working as an actor and producer he has built a legacy of goodwill and work ethic in an industry in which honor and respect have not always been a stable commodity.  And now, Esai is making a move that could help change the entertainment industry in a very good way.  Driven by his lifetime of experience in entertainment Esai is running for the presidency of SAG-AFTRA.

So, why should fans care about this run for President.  There is a very good reason.  The answer is simple while being hued in a mild, over-looked complexity.

Let's take the simplistic viewpoint.  If you are a fan of movies and television, you want every experience to be incredible? When you walk out of the theater or set down the remote control, you want to say "Yes...that was amazing!".

There are so many moving parts that go into creating those incredible two hours you just sat through.  The most important part is the people.  The creativity, artistry, love and passion that creates those flickering images all comes down to the people.  Not just the lead actors, but the guy playing the cab driver with that pinnacle single line.  Every person walking in the background.  That one actor you love seeing on the screen. You know his face but can't recall his name.   All these people are there first because they love creating the films and television shows that we as fans love to watch.  Nobody comes out of business school and says "Acting will be my path to financial freedom!".  They are on those sets because their love of the craft.

This is exactly the reason seeing Esai Morales become SAG-AFTRA president is important to us as fans and the industry.  As a man that has successfully made a living as an actor for almost 30 years, he has consistently delivered to the fans entertaining movies and television.  He also understands what it takes to make a living in the world of Film and TV.  To me, Morales feels like an every-man.  His love of the craft comes out when you watch him on the screen or just reading his IMDB page.  This is a real working actor.

Social Responsibility and the Movie Going Public 

As fans of movies, if we want great movies we need somebody in the Actor's corner that makes sure they can deliver on their craft and make a fair living in the process.  Think about this.  We are socially responsible about most of the  things we buy.  Movie tickets are an extension of that. They should not be an exception.

When I interviewed John Carpenter, the iconic Horror Director, he told me that every single person you see on that screen has a specific purpose.  Even the people you see in the backgound where specifically chosen to add to the movie.  These background actors help to create the story and a man like Morales would lead SAG-AFTRA in a way that will champion the rights of everyone from the big stars to the girl in the background seen crossing the street.  This will make for better movies and for a better fan experience.

When its all said and done its really that simple.  With the platform Morales is running on, this can become a reality and we all win!

As fans we of course cannot vote in this election but we can make our voices heard in another way.  There is a GoFundMe Campaign has been enacted to support Esai's run for SAG-AFTRA President.  Any of us can donate a buck or two and help Esai get elected which will bring us closer to the kinds of movies and TV shows that we expect from Hollywood.

About Esai Morales

Morales, best known for his role in “NYPD Blue,” is running on a ticket with Jane Austin, who is seeking re-election to the secretary-treasurer slot as part of the slate.

“I’ve thought about this long and hard,” Morales told Variety. “I think I can bring people together and that I’m a fair-minded person.”

Ballots for the national, Los Angeles, and New York elections will go out July 25 with an Aug. 24 deadline for receipt of ballots. Those contests will determine the president, secretary-treasurer, and most board members; an exec VP and seven other VPs will be elected at the SAG-AFTRA convention in October.

The deadline for submitting nomination petitions is June 23. The union, formed five years ago through the merger of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA, has about 165,000 members.  To receive a ballot, a member must be dues-current. Turnout in SAG-AFTRA elections is usually between 20% and 30% of eligible members.

Stuntman Peter Antico announced his run for the two-year presidency in March. Current SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris was named by the national board in April, 2016, to succeed the rest of Howard’s term after he died.

The self-styled progressives in the Membership First faction ran Patricia Richardson as their presidential candidate in 2015. Howard won 53.7% of the vote.

Morales and Austin both said their campaign will not have any component to it that could be perceived as under-mining the SAG-AFTRA negotiators while they are bargaining on a successor deal to the master contract for film and TV. Negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers began several weeks ago under a press blackout. The current three-year deal expires on June 30.

“SAG-AFTRA is currently in the midst of a watershed TV/Theatrical negotiation with our industry partners at the AMPTP,” Morales said. “At this time, we feel that any campaigning that would explore differences in our leadership styles and objectives would be inappropriate. We wish to offer the negotiating team our unconditional support, and look forward to engaging the membership in more meaningful discussions of the issues that affect performers at the appropriate time when it would best serve our membership.”

Morales is currently filming “Imprisoned,” in which he plays the governor of Puerto Rico.

Esai Morales' first major role came in 1987’s “La Bamba” opposite Lou Diamond Phillips.

Recent credits include Netflix’s series “Ozark” opposite Jason Bateman and the independent comedy “Senior Moment” opposite William Shatner.

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