SAG-AFTRA Board Candidate Shaan Sharma Addresses “Toxic” Culture Of Union’s Politics – Deadline

Ballots for the upcoming SAG-AFTRA election are within the mail, and as soon as once more, nationwide board candidate Shaan Sharma has come below fireplace from members of the union’s Unite for Strength ruling faction. Two years in the past, a fellow L.A. Local board member and Unite for Strength stalwart referred to him in an electronic mail as a “brown lackey” of the union’s opposition MembershipFirst faction, and “the epitome of brown boys who are Republican traitors to our race.”

“My personal experience is that the current ruling regime treats anyone who dares to speak up and question or criticize anything with contempt, aggression, exclusion, and retaliation,” Sharma writes in a prolonged message to the union’s members, in a letter hooked up to his official marketing campaign assertion on the SAG-AFTRA election website. “It’s how I’ve been treated, constantly. I never shared it with you in previous letters because I’m okay, and didn’t want to distract from the important issues and points I was making. But it has become clear to me that this mean, toxic, oppressive culture that I, and many others, have experienced is itself an important issue that must be addressed.”

Battle Lines Drawn As SAG-AFTRA Factions Stake Positions In Upcoming Election

Sharma has been probably the most outspoken critics of the union’s present management lately. “SAG-AFTRA is a dictatorship,” he wrote two years in the past whereas operating efficiently for a seat on the union’s L.A. Local board of administrators. “The President has unchecked power if they control the National Board. Any blind spots of the President, become the blind spots of the entire union. And, from my experience on the inside, Gabrielle (Carteris) has been using the union and our communications department as her personal PR firm to consolidate power, build her own profile, and advance her own career interests instead of serving us, the membership, and especially the 95% of us who aren’t movie stars and TV series regulars.”

Sharma, who’s operating this time for seats on the native and nationwide boards, is a co-founder of, a non-partisan grassroots neighborhood and on-line useful resource for SAG-AFTRA members that seeks to coach them – in vigorous and wonky element – concerning the ins-and-outs of the union’s contracts and governance. Deadline has noticed a number of of its conferences, held each Wednesday night, which at all times start with a reminder to individuals to chorus from discussing union politics.

Recent periods have included discussions about New Media residuals, the union’s Codified Basic Agreement, its set reps and subject providers, and the union’s numerous member classes.

On Tuesday – the day ballots have been despatched out – Michele Proude, SAG-AFTRA’s nationwide vp of mid-sized locals and a ruling celebration chief, accused Sharma of secretly utilizing as a stalking horse for MembershipFirst — a cost Sharma vehemently denies, noting that “She’s never once attended one of our meetings.”

“Secrets?” Proude wrote. “MembershipFirst has got them – In this election, the word ‘transparency’ has been weaponized by MembeshipFirst. But even as they preach transparency, they utilize DECEPTION to get what they want – a majority voice on the National Board. They once achieved majority in SAG by winning their own elections in L.A., but this time around their tactic is to simultaneously REACH their tentacles into the Locals outside of L.A. – actually recruiting candidates who promise to vote with them and their agenda – and DENY that is what they are doing.”

“Here’s how it works,” she wrote. “A member named Shaan Sharma spent all of Covid holding Zoom ‘book clubs’ — it was all very ‘innocent.’ His friend…would invite local leaders from around the country to a little chat to talk about their locals. When more savvy members called him out, he said, ‘This is not political, it’s EDUCATIONAL.’ They denied having any intentions of recruiting candidates to run against local leadership, and that it was all to help members learn more about SAG-AFTRA. All the while, in fact, Shaan was one of the search co-chairs for MembershipFirst manipulating and grooming new leaders across the country to do the bidding of MembershipFirst – a group that believes their ‘Hollywood majority local’ should have all the power because those outside of their local are just ‘hobbyists.’”

She ended her Facebook submit by saying: “Manipulating local leaders and denying it = ‘transparency’ in the eyes of MembershipFirst. Please vote for trusted Local leaders and Fran Drescher/Anthony Rapp nationally.”

Drescher is operating for president of the union to succeed Carteris on the Unite for Strength slate, and Rapp is her secretary-treasurer operating mate. They’re opposed by presidential candidate Matthew Modine and secretary-treasurer candidate Joely Fisher on the MembershipFirst slate.

Sharma, citing quite a few different cases by which he has been focused by elected leaders from the Unite for Strength camp, mentioned at the moment in his newest message to SAG-AFTRA members that “No SAG-AFTRA member ought to have motive to worry their leaders. I simply think about what all the opposite members of that Facebook group have been considering watching their nationwide leaders speak like that about one other member, one other board member of the union. Do you assume they’d really feel comfy talking up in that atmosphere or do you assume they’d worry being focused themselves?

“We all know that our union is off-course. Almost all of our members are struggling. From my first letter again in 2017, I acknowledged that the political infighting was crippling our union, however I didn’t know then how political the whole lot in our union had turn into. Not individuals with totally different concepts having regular friction on the trail to compromise, however warring gangs in a zero-sum, take no prisoners, conflict over turf.

“One of the witnesses to this, who’s become the brother I never had, is the great Sean Astin, son of former SAG President Patty Duke, who wanted me to include this from him: ‘I think it’s outrageous that somebody who’s devoted as much time, energy, effort, and skill and passion and compassion and wisdom to the union as Shaan has to be treated in such a manner, to be harangued, and forced to defend his character against such unreasonable attacks. Everybody should have to validate what they’re doing when they’re operating in an influential way, and be subject to criticism, but this is just not okay.’” Astin is operating for seats on the native and nationwide board on the MembershipFirst slate.

“So here’s the thing,” Sharma writes in his newest message. “It’s a free nation. People have each proper to name you names and be imply or unfair to you. It’s sadly a part of life and of politics. So I’m not sharing the next from a spot of upset or anger. I really feel very supported and inspired by our members and union service has, and continues to, change my life for the higher in methods I may have by no means imagined.

“However I’m very, deeply involved for the well being of our union due to the way in which lots of our union leaders behave and deal with one another. It will not be unlawful for our union to have a imply, oppressive, and immature management tradition, however that doesn’t imply we have now to accept one. We can select to elect leaders who disagree, and debate, and problem one another with respect, as an alternative of making an attempt to destroy one another.

“In order for any group to operate correctly, voices of dissent or critique are vital, and good leaders welcome and worth it, so the group can see if it must appropriate itself. Those who worth their very own energy and management over the right functioning of a corporation do not need an incentive to search for their errors, or worse, might attempt to conceal them to save lots of face, since they’re chargeable for the established order, and it’s working for them, as a result of they’re in energy. But they might give in to the temptation to attempt to silence or remove their critics, to guard their fame and keep energy.

“The drawback is, should you attempt to assault, intimidate, or silence voices of dissent or critique, as an alternative of listening to their considerations and addressing them, you threat both making a chilling impact on speech, the place persons are afraid to talk up, or if they don’t seem to be successfully intimidated into submission, you radicalize dissenters, who will discover different methods to get their considerations addressed, normally with louder, or extra artistic, or extra forceful means.

“Retaliation towards dissenting voices is much more of a difficulty in our trade and our union due to the character of our business and the fixed energy differentials concerned. Performers, our members, are always residing in worry and a state of powerlessness. Hence, we’re so exploitable. We are always pressured to compromise our security, our pay, our self-respect, and our integrity within the pursuit of a profitable career. Many cave and do compromise.

“Performers are afraid to talk up in protection of themselves and others in all places: in appearing lessons, in auditions, on units, in conferences with brokers, managers, administrators, showrunners, writers, producers, casting professionals, and different trade professionals. No performer desires to do something that would value them work and jeopardize their desires.

“The one place; the first and foremost place where our members must feel safe speaking up is within our own union. We own this union. This is our house. It exists to empower us. If we can’t feel safe to speak up in our own union, it’s no wonder we feel so powerless everywhere else.”

Election ballots shall be counted on September 2.

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