Fran Drescher has been elected president of SAG-AFTRA, while Joely Fisher has been elected secretary-treasurer of SAG-AFTRA. It’s a surprising result: Both Drescher and Fisher belong to different governing parties within SAG-AFTRA so they were, in essence, running against each other.
Said Drescher in a statement, “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. We must never forget the important contribution we make to many millions of people each and every day when they buy a ticket to sit in a dark theater or turn on their TVs or streaming devices.”
Drescher also 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.”
Drescher was running at the head of the Unite for Strength party, one of the governing parties of SAG-AFTRA. Her opponent Matthew Modine was with the Membership First party. According to ballot counts from SAG-AFTRA, the results were close.
A total of 122,154 ballots were mailed out. About 26.49%, or 32,362, of the ballots were returned. Drescher received 16,958 votes (52.45%), while Modine received 15,371 votes (47.55%). Modine’s running mate, Fisher, received 18,547 votes (57.71%). Drescher's running mate, Anthony Rapp, received 13,593 votes (42.29%).
Both Drescher and Fisher will serve two-year terms. Their terms will begin immediately following the certification of the ballots on Sept. 3. This is the third split-ticket election result since SAG-AFTRA merged in 2012.
Fisher promised to work to unify SAG-AFTRA. “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 in a statement. “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.” Fisher comes from a family with union experience; her mother, Connie Stevens, served as SAG-AFTRA’s secretary-treasurer.
“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,” said SAG-AFTRA’s National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in a statement. “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.”
Drescher also emphasized the importance of unity: “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!”
Drescher promised that she will represent all actors in the union, not just the ones who support the Unite for Strength party, saying: “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.”
Drescher was the lead in the hit ’90s television show, “The Nanny,” which she also co-created and executive produced. She also founded the non-profit Cancer Schmancer, to educate and empower people who have cancer. Drescher is currently adapting “The Nanny” into a musical and she has been cast in the second season of “Dollface” on Hulu.
Fisher was part of another popular ’90s TV show, “Ellen,” for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Her film and TV credits include “Inspector Gadget,” “Growing Pains,” “Grace Under Fire,” and “The Outer Limits.” She has also appeared onstage in “Cabaret” and “Grease.”