Tom Hanks, one of the first celebrities to contract the coronavirus, is urging his fellow actors to contribute to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which said Monday it has raised more than $7.8 million in contributions to aid SAG-AFTRA members in dire financial need.
“The devastating effects of COVID-19 are in our own backyard, and we’re doing what we can for our colleagues and collaborators who need help,” said Hanks, a member of the foundation’s Actors’ Council who along with his wife, Rita Wilson, have played major roles in the fundraising efforts. Like Hanks, Wilson tested positive for the virus in March while he was filming Elvis, the Elvis Presley biopic, in Australia.
Others who serve on the Actors’ Council – including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Bryan Cranston – have joined Hanks in issuing statements calling on the acting community and industry leaders to continue their support of the foundations’ relief efforts.
“The economy of an actor’s life is uncertain and inconsistent enough in normal times, but this shutdown has placed our members in jeopardy,” said Streep, who was one of the first to step up to support the relief efforts. “I am grateful to join with others who are able to help ease the burden of our colleagues.”
“I’ve been a working actress since I was 14, and this community is my family,” Kidman said. “It’s critical we support those who have played a part in the success of this industry.”
The foundation, which has already provided $5.2 million in emergency financial assistance to more than 5,600 SAG-AFTRA members and their families, has set a goal of raising $12 million.
“It’s an optimistic start,” Blanchett said, “though given most productions may remain dark for several months ahead, there is more work to be done and we’re encouraging industry leaders who are able to support us to give what they can.”
“Everyone who has been able to find success in this industry has done so because at some point in their journey they received a helping hand,” Cranston said. “Right now, we’re all coming together in various ways to make sure people who need help are able to receive it.”
A video produced by the foundation features dozens of actors expressing their heartfelt thanks for the grants they’ve received from the relief fund to help cover their basic expenses. For some, the grants, which average about $1,000, helped them make it through another month of joblessness and financial insecurity.
Watch it here:
“It just relieves so much stress not to have zero dollars in the bank account,” said an actor featured in the video. “It was an incredible encouragement,” said another, “and it’s going to go towards paying my rent next month and some groceries.”
All are urging those who can afford to contribute to do so. “We need all the help we can get,” said one of the recipients. “From the bottom of my heart, a big giant thank you,” said another.
The relief effort has been “a spectacular showing of the performance community coming together, stepping up and supporting their own,” said foundation president Courtney B. Vance. “Our phenomenal Actors’ Council is leading the way, building a Fund that is about actors supporting their fellow actors, and the industry is giving their support, as well. Together, we have been able to grant several millions of dollars in emergency aid to thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists in need over the last three months. But with the long-term effects of production shutdowns to continue for months to come, we must remain vigilant and unified in our mission to support the performers who have contributed to the successes of this industry. They now need our support. As our Foundation is completely donor-dependent, we are asking everyone to give whatever they can, and join us in this critical relief effort.”
Other members of the Foundation’s Actors’ Council who are lending their support to the relief effort include Annette Bening, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Robert De Niro, Jane Fonda, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, Tony Goldwyn and Jane Musky, Dustin Hoffman, Eva Longoria Baston, and Edward Norton and Shauna Robertson.
Other actors contributing support include Patricia Arquette, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bergeron, Rachel Bloom, Steve and Nancy Carell, Gabrielle Carteris, Fala Chen, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Joel Edgerton, Sam Elliott, Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy, Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Jason George, Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt, Tea Leoni, Chrissy Metz, Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich, Bill Nye, Lupita Nyong’o, Paul Pape, Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak, Pauley Perrette, Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman, Pamela Reed, Patricia Richardson, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Susan Sarandon, Naomi Scott, Cobie Smulders, Jack Speer, Octavia Spencer, Barbra Streisand, Donald Sutherland, JoBeth Williams, and over nine hundred additional supporters.
Industry support for the foundation’s relief efforts include $1 million contributions from Netflix and Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as support from AMC Networks, Anthem Blue Cross, Backstage, the Berlanti Family Foundation, City National Bank, the David Geffen Foundation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Johnny Carson Foundation, Bryan Lourd, Dana Norris and Steve Tisch, and Participant.