George Clooney has donated $25,000 to the Actors Fund, money that is earmarked to provide emergency assistance to workers in the entertainment industry who fall on hard times because of the strike.
Clooney said he plans to make this the first of periodic donations to the fund, and said he is prevailing upon his peers to do the same. The goal is to provide some cushion for workers who find themselves in dire financial straits after being laid off. Clooney said he chose the Actors Fund because applicants do not have to belong to a union to be eligible for relief, and because the fund issues grants and not loans.
“To people like myself, the strike is a forced vacation, but with the rhetoric high, and two other strikes looming, there is the fear that a prolonged strike can destroy people who make a living in this industry,” Clooney told Daily Variety. “My hope is that people who can afford it will take responsibility for this and help out. This felt like the right place, because the Actors Fund is the most inclusive. It helps writers, and everyone from craft services workers to agency assistants who have been laid off.”
Joe Benincasa, exec director of the 125-year old Actors Fund, said that the payment process is quick, after claimants apply for relief and meet with social workers who evaluate their need and resources. Last year, the Fund distributed $2 million in its emergency program. That figure is likely to soar if a strike continues and workers are displaced.
“If you can’t make your mortgage or buy food for your family, we can cut a check the same day or the next day,” he said.
Benincasa said the org has reserves funded by coin from unions and guilds, as well as foundations and corporations, but an outpouring by the industry might be needed.