Dwayne Johnson’s Record-Setting Donation to SAG-AFTRA Foundation Relief Fund Amid Actors’ Strike

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has made a record-setting donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, as the actors’ strike is nearing its third week.

‘This is him saying, “In such a time as this, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere, whatever you need me to do,”‘ the foundation’s president Courtney B. Vance told Variety on Monday. ‘And that sends a huge message to other folks to do the same thing.’

Vance, 63, said that the amount of the contribution from Johnson, 51, was confidential – the publication described it as a ‘seven-figure donation’ – and that he was moved by the generous gesture from the A-lister.

He said the told The Scorpion King star, ‘Man, you’re stepping up in a way that is allowing others to know the dire necessity of it.’

When the strike commenced July 13, Vance and the foundation’s executive director Cyd Wilson sent a letter to a group of the union’s 2,700 highest-paid performers in an effort to raise funds for actors who might be thrown into financial peril at the prospects of an extended work stoppage.


The latest: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, 51, has made a record-setting donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, as the actors’ strike is nearing its third week. Pictured in LA in October

Wilson told the outlet that SAG-AFTRA members had stepped up to assist their peers – the union consists of about 160,000 members – amid the COVID-19 crisis three years ago that shut down Hollywood productions.

‘When we hit a crisis like this and we’re going to spend millions and millions of dollars in financial assistance, this is when we need our high profile talent who can afford it, who are in a situation to help others,’ Wilson said.

Johnson’s camp immediately reached out to SAG-AFTRA officials after he received the letter, and he and Vance chat about the situation.

‘It’s the largest single donation that we’ve ever received from one individual at one time,’ Wilson said of the contribution from the Black Adam star. ‘And what is amazing is that that one check is going to help thousands of actors keep food on their table, and keep their kids safe, and keep their cars running.

‘And it’s not lost on me that he’s very humble about this, but it is a way to get us started.

Wilson said that the process regarding the emergency relief fund follows the same pattern they instituted during the pandemic, when ‘some of the biggest stars in our industry stepped up.’

She said of Johnson: ‘For him to step up like this is really going to get us started in the fundraising that we’re going I need to do, because everything we’re hearing and seeing, we feel we have to be prepared that this could go on through the end of the year.

‘This donation is the kickstart we needed in the first week of what we think will be a long haul.’


Johnson and the foundation’s president, actor Courtney B. Vance, were in contact shortly after the strike began. Pictured in LA in 2019


Protestors were seen on the picket line Monday in New York City outside of Netflix’s offices

Wilson said that foundation grants typically provide $1,500 for each member, but in emergency situations members can receive as much as $6,000 for each member. Wilson said that between 7,000 to 10,000 members are typically in need of relief.

Vance said, ‘Everyone knows what happens when you go on strike, when you stand for something – as the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything – you can’t stand unless you have support underneath you, on the side, up top and up front.

‘So Dwayne is letting everyone know, “I’m here. What are you going to do?”‘

Vance added: ‘I want to thank Dwayne for his tremendous generosity, compassion, and initiative to step up in this significant and meaningful way for our community.

‘On behalf of the thousands who will be helped by his historic donation, thank you, thank you, thank you.’

As the combined strike by Hollywood actors and screenwriters entered its second week with no swift end in sight, union leaders and star strikers – including a bevy of comedians – attempted to boost morale Friday as the novelty of picket lines wears off.

‘The momentum is still building,’ said stand-up comic, writer and actor Marc Maron outside Netflix headquarters. ‘I got some of my comedy buddies – we’re like, let’s go, let’s make sure we’re there and we show up for our union. There’s a lot of people here and look, eventually they have to, they have to negotiate, right?’


Maron starred on the series GLOW for Netflix, whose headquarters in an increasingly hip section of Hollywood has been a bustling hub during the strike, with music blasting and food trucks serving ice cream, shaved ice and churros.


Johnson immediately reached out to SAG-AFTRA officials after he received the letter, and he and Vance chat about the situation. Pictured in Spain in October


Between 7,000 to 10,000 members are typically in need of relief during emergency situations such as the strike, SAG-AFTRA officials said

His fellow comedians and comic actors abounded on the picket line, including  Saturday Night Live and Portlandia alum Fred Armisen, Hacks star Hannah Einbinder,  Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Chelsea Peretti, What We Do in the Shadows vampire Mark Proksch, and longtime comedy team Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker, who said they were not optimistic about a quick end to the strike.

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‘I think it´s going to be a long struggle, a long fight,’ Heidecker said. ‘We´re going to have to be out here until we get what we need to get.’

But they were confident about finding sustenance to get them through it.

‘There´s an Arby´s here and Eric hasn´t eaten Arby´s in a year,’ Heidecker said.

‘It´s been 364 days since I had a big roast beef and we´re doing it today,’ Wareheim said.

It has been harder for picketers to keep the energy up at more sprawling corporate campuses like Warner Bros. Studios and Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, where a Southern California heat wave hit hard all week.

But as the strike has begun to stretch on, the regular appearance of star writers and actors has given a jolt to picket lines in both LA and New York, and provided high-profile voices on issues that are key to both writers and actors – better pay and preserving established practices like residual payments , as well as protection from the use of artificial intelligence.

Roughly 65,000 actors – the vast majority of whom make less than $27,000 a year from their screen work – along with 11,500 screenwriters, are on strike.

On Friday, actors in London rallied in solidarity with their Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists brethren.


Actor Brian Cox participated in a rally by the UK actors union Equity, in support of the SAG-AFTRA strike on Friday in London


Debby Ryan and Fred Armisen walked on a picket line outside Netflix studios on Friday  in LA

Stars including Brian Cox, Andy Serkis, Hayley Atwell, Simon Pegg and Imelda Staunton gathered with other performers and production crew in Leicester Square for the demonstration organized by British actors’ union Equity.

They chanted ‘One struggle, one fight, we support SAG-AFTRA fight’ and ‘The luvvies, united, will never be defeated,’ using a British slang term for actors.

Cox, who played media mogul Logan Roy in Succession, said, ‘I think we are at the thin end of a horrible wedge,’ with artificial intelligence shaking the foundations of actors´ work.

‘The wages are one thing, but the worst aspect is the whole idea of AI and what AI can do to us,’ he said. ‘AI is the really, really serious thing. And it´s the thing where we´re most vulnerable.’

The British actors’ union is not on strike, though many members are also part of the U.S. union.

Cox said it was important actors showed solidarity with striking screenwriters in the Writers Guild of America.

‘We´re just like pieces of furniture without writers,’ he said.

Serkis, who has become a specialist in playing digitally created characters since he first played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings saga two decades ago, said ‘I´m probably one of the most scanned actors on the planet.’

‘I know that my image can be used, or my library of movements, can be used or my voice,’ he said, adding that it ‘is wrong that that is easily accessed and used without remunerating the artist.’


Picketers carried signs outside Paramount in Times Square on Friday in New York


Marc Maron walked on a picket line outside Netflix studios on Friday, July 21, 2023, in Los Angeles


Actor Cynthia Nixon was snapped on the picket line outside Netflix on Friday in New York

In the U.S., Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago were among the the major cities with strike events Wednesday and Thursday, demonstrating that film production doesn’t just happen in New York and Los Angeles.

There’s no indication when negotiations with studios and streaming companies, which are represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, will resume. The group has said they’ve offered both writers and actors substantial pay increases and have tried to meet other demands.

‘Please come back to the table, please be realistic, please have a little bit more socialism in your heart and think of the people who make the money for you,’ Mission Impossible star Pegg urged studios and streaming services.

Many on the picket lines in the U.S. have seized upon comments by their corporate bosses like Disney CEO Bob Iger, who last week called the unions’ demands ‘not realistic.’

During an earnings event Wednesday, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said he grew up in a union household and knew the strike was painful on workers and their families.

‘We’re super committed to getting to an agreement as soon as possible. One that’s equitable and one that enables the unions, the industry and everybody in it to move forward into the future,’ he said.

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