Can Trump Return to Movies and TV Shows After Quitting SAG-AFTRA?

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Can Trump Return to Movies and TV Shows After His SAG-AFTRA Resignation?

The fact that Trump is now non-union talent might be yet another reason for producers to steer clear of him

Donald Trump has decided he would rather leave SAG-AFTRA than be expelled, telling the guild in a letter sent Thursday that he is resigning his membership from the actors’ guild. But what does that mean for his future media plans?

Legally speaking, no longer holding a SAG-AFTRA card doesn’t mean the former president can’t appear in TV or movie cameos like the ones he made before entering the White House, including “Home Alone 2” and “Saturday Night Live.” A representative for the guild said that Trump’s resignation would not bar him from future cameos or making future media appearances for himself through his own projects, either through a new media venture or through news networks that supported him like Newsmax or OAN.

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Still, with the power of Hollywood’s labor unions putting the expectation on major studios to hire union workers as much as possible, the fact that Trump is now non-union talent might be yet another reason for producers to steer clear of him, the way many business figures and companies outside of Trump’s base of supporters have distanced themselves since he left the White House.

Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the two weeks since his presidency ended, reports have surfaced that membership figures for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort have dropped, and companies from Deutsche Bank to the Girl Scouts of America have severed business ties with the Trump Organization. The Professional Golfers’ Association has pulled the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has terminated the city’s contracts with the Trump Organization.

For all these groups, the breaking point was the same as it was for SAG-AFTRA: the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. On the day of the riots that killed five people, SAG-AFTRA condemned the Trump supporters who stormed Congress, saying they were “emboldened and encouraged by a sitting president and his enablers who have peddled baseless conspiracy theories.” About two weeks later, the guild announced that it would hold a hearing to potentially expel Trump, with SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White accusing Trump of endangering broadcast journalists who are members of the guild with his attacks against the media.

“Our most important role as a union is the protection of our members. The unfortunate truth is this individual’s words and actions over the past four years have presented actual harm to our broadcast journalist members,” said White. “The board’s resolution addresses this effort to undermine freedom of the press and reaffirms the principles on which our democratic society rests, and which we must all work to protect and preserve.”

In his resignation letter, Trump attacked Carteris with the boastfulness he often demonstrated in his now-terminated Twitter account, bragging about his cameos and how his presidency led to a ratings bonanza for cable news. He also questioned Carteris’ leadership, making references to the lawsuit filed against the trustees of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan for changes made to the plans’ eligibility requirements. Those changes have led to a grassroots protest movement within the leadership that includes actors like Whoopi Goldberg, Mark Hamill and Ed Asner, all of whom have repeatedly voiced their disdain for Trump.

“Your organization has done little for its members, and nothing for me — besides collecting dues and promoting dangerous un-American policies and ideas – -as evident by your massive unemployment rates and lawsuits from celebrated actors, who even recorded a video asking, ‘Why isn’t the union fighting for me?’” Trump wrote.

In response to the resignation, Carteris and White released a two-word statement: “Thank you.”

Jeremy Fuster