Ken Howard Seeks Re-Election as SAG-AFTRA President

Ken Howard Sag Afra
Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard will seek re-election with endorsements coming from George Clooney, Bryan Cranston, Betty White, Rita Moreno, Octavia Spencer, Ron Perlman, Clark Gregg and Josh Gad.

SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles VP Jenny O’Hara will join Howard as she runs for secretary-treasurer as part of the Unite for Strength and United Screen Actors Nationwide slates. Election ballots will be mailed to members on July 21 and tabulated on August 20.

Current secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino is not part of the slates.

Rhea Perlman, S. Epatha Merkerson, Chris Messina, Stephen Wallem and Tom Bergeron also endorsed Howard and O’Hara, along with union officers executive vice president Gabrielle Carteris, Los Angeles president Clyde Kusatsu, New York president Mike Hodge and national vice president for recording artists Dan Navarro.

“I love my work — both as an actor and as SAG-AFTRA president,” said the Emmy and Tony Award-winning Howard. “But while entertainment and media have always been tough businesses, they are uniquely challenging today. Despite countless jobs being created in seemingly endless new ways, performers have to work harder than ever to make ends meet. For many, it’s a real struggle.”

Howard, 71, has headed SAG-AFTRA since it was created three years ago and easily defeated Esai Morales and two other challengers in the merged union’s first election in 2013. Howard was first elected as SAG president as a moderate in 2009 and re-elected in 2011. He won both times on a platform advocating for the merger of SAG and AFTRA, which was overwhelmingly approved by members.

Howard became the 25th and final president of SAG in 2009 shortly after winning an Emmy for “Grey Gardens” and has always portrayed himself as a pragmatist. Best known for playing the lead on the CBS series “The White Shadow,” he’s continued working while in office, recently logging feature film credits on “The Wedding Ringer” and “The Judge.”

In 2013, Howard headed the Los Angeles-based Unite for Strength slate, which won the lion’s share of seats on the 70-member national board.

The self-styled progressives of the Membership First faction, which controlled the SAG board room from 2005 to 2008, backed Morales in 2013 and won only a handful of seats. The faction has indicated that it’s planning to run a slate but hasn’t yet revealed specifics.

“It’s my mission to make sure SAG-AFTRA protects our members’ ability to do the work they love and to build their lives around it,” Howard said. “This matters a great deal to me personally. These are not just my fellow members; they’re my colleagues and friends. I know we will prevail because we’ve got amazing talent fighting on our side, and I’m eager to continue leading that charge.”

O’Hara has credits on “Mystic River” and “Matchstick Men” and recurring roles on “The Mindy Project,” “Big Love” and “The King of Queens.”

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  1. Just the Facts says:

    Frustrated Guild Member, I commend you on your use of ALL CAPS! Not everyone understands that pressing the Caps Lock key strengthens arguments and wins hearts. Bravo. You demand VOD Residuals.. Well, clearly you’re not paying attention because as Chair of TV/Theatrical negotiations, President Howard and his team delivered first-ever residuals for Ad Supported Video On Demand programming. You want transparency in numbers.. Well, the Department of Labor posts LM-2’s for all unions, including SAG-AFTRA. Look it up, genius.

  2. Lynn Kerry says:

    I wish he’d do more to curtail non-union productions that are too prevalent. Also I wish he’d do something more for background actors.

    • Just the Facts says:

      Lynn, you mean you wish he’d do something to recapture work that’s going non-union? Funny you should mention that because that’s exactly what Howard just did by launching the #BestInTheBiz Commercials Organizing and Recapture Initiative. It’s an ambitious effort which is absolutely critical to the financial health of many SAG-AFTRA members.



    • Kevin M. O'Hern says:

      Vote him out and let a professional negotiatie a contract.

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