Oprah Winfrey Among Stars Donating Millions to SAG-AFTRA Foundation to Help Striking Actors

Oprah Winfrey Attends 'A Wrinkle In Time' film premiere in London, UK - 13 Mar 2018. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are among the latest stars to donate $1 million or more to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Assistance Program — as the actors strike against Hollywood studios and streamers continues.

The program has raised over $15 million since SAG-AFTRA called a strike on July 13, the foundation said in a press release Wednesday.

Other Hollywood A-listers who’ve donated at least $1 million include George and Amal Clooney, Luciana and Matt Damon, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness, Nicole Kidman, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who kick-started the fundraising campaign.

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In a statement, SAG-AFTRA Foundation President Courtney B. Vance said the donations will help actors pay their bills, buy food and prescriptions.

“The entertainment industry is in crisis and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation is currently processing more than 30 times our usual number of applications for emergency aid. We received 400 applications in the last week alone,” Vance said.

“Our Emergency Financial Assistance Program is here to ensure that performers in need don’t lose their homes, have the ability to pay for utilities, buy food for their families, purchase life-saving prescriptions, cover medical bills and more,” he added.

Vance noted that the foundation faces “a massive challenge,” but it remains determined to meet this current need. He also praised The Rock for making the first “historic seven-figure donation.”

Streep and Clooney are longtime SAG-AFTRA Foundation supporters and this time “stepped up with $1 million donations, emails, and many calls to action rallying others to give generously,” Vance said.

In a statement, Streep reflected on her early years as a struggling actor.

“I remember my days as a waiter, cleaner, typist, even my time on the unemployment line,” she said. “In this strike action, I am lucky to be able to support those who will struggle in a long action to sustain against Goliath. We will stand strong together against these powerful corporations who are bent on taking the humanity, the human dignity, even the human out of our profession.”

Clooney noted that the fundraising campaign has brought attention to the “human toll” of the strike.

“I’m proud to be able to support the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and my fellow actors who may be struggling in this historic moment,” he said. “We’ve stood on the shoulders of the likes of Bette Davis and Jimmy Cagney and it’s time for our generation to give something back. I can’t thank Courtney enough for his determination in putting this effort together by shedding light on the human toll happening right now, and how we can work together to alleviate some of the pain and suffering.”

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is the educational and charitable arm of the actors union, and provides relief to eligible performers in unexpected financial crises.

The foundation previously said it offers grants of up to $1,500, and in dire situations a lifetime member can get up to $6,000 in emergency assistance.

According to SAG-AFTRA, 87 percent of its members don’t earn enough from acting jobs to reach the $26,000 a year threshold to qualify for union health insurance.