“The question coming out of this strike is, how do we turn this moment into a movement? This is a new generation. There is a new wave in Hollywood. If you truly believe in a better world, that better world can come. It’s not inevitable; it takes labor. We have the ability to build the world that we’ve always wanted to live in.”
-Alex O’Keefe, episode 340 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
In a moment of historic upheaval in Hollywood, screenwriter and labor activist Alex O’Keefe (The Bear) believes he can turn the tide. The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May 2nd. Actors represented by SAG-AFTRA joined the fight earlier this month.
We begin by discussing the WGA’s key demands (7:30), O’Keefe’s experience inside writers’ rooms (13:12), the pushback from the studios thus far (17:01), how the divisive ‘interim agreements’ recently issued by SAG-AFTRA (27:40) stem from a checkered history of union organizing in Hollywood (29:13), and why O’Keefe believes this cross-union solidarity is unprecedented (33:29).
On the back-half, we walk through his origin story in Florida (35:40), his background in politics and speechwriting (44:57), the inspired words of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (50:50) and how they’ve shaped O’Keefe’s vision for the future of his industry (1:02:44).
- Find resources to support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.
- Learn about Alex’s work on his website.
- Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
- For supplemental pieces, read more on the strikes in Deadline, Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, and The Ankler.
- For more talks, hear our conversations with Sarah Silverman, Jon Bernthal, Congressman Maxwell Frost, Sara Nelson, Dolores Huerta, Astead Herndon, Gloria Steinem, Noam Chomsky, and Anita Hill.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.