SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris has been elected president of the International Federation of Actors – the first American to ever hold the position. She was elected by delegates attending FIA’s 22nd World Congress.
Carteris succeeds Canadian actress Ferne Downey, who had been its president since 2012. Founded in 1952, FIA represents performers’ trade unions, guilds, and professional associations in some 65 countries whose members work in all recorded media and live theatre.
“It is my profound honor to be elected president of the International Federation of Actors,” Carteris said. “For nearly seventy years, FIA has been a leader and fighter for actors around the world. FIA has worked tirelessly to make stages, sets and studios more diverse and equitable, in addition to creating a culture of respect and accountability in the entertainment, media and performing arts industry that transcends international boundaries. I am grateful to Ferne Downey for her leadership as president over the past nine years, and look forward to working with my colleagues across FIA in the years ahead.”
“Gabrielle has spent her entire career in the entertainment industry, whether as an actor herself or standing up for workers in her role as SAG-AFTRA president, and I’m confident she will be a fantastic president of the International Federation of Actors,” said FIA general secretary Dominick Luquer. “We must continue our critical work to expand the protections of collective bargaining, and make the entertainment industry more inclusive, supportive, and safe for workers all over the world. It’s clear that Gabrielle has a deep-rooted commitment to protecting each and every worker in our industry, and I’m so proud and grateful to welcome her as FIA president.”
Carteris was first elected president of SAG-AFTRA in April of 2016, and previously served as its executive vice president from 2013 to 2016. She is the chair of the union’s National TV/Theatrical contracts negotiating committee and leads the President’s Task Force on Education, Outreach and Engagement.
She also serves as a vice president of AFL-CIO’s executive council, where she co-leads a sexual harassment workgroup, and is a commissioner of the Industrywide Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. She is also a sector lead for the AFL-CIO’s Future of Work Commission; sits on the Board of Trustees of the Solidarity Center, the AFL-CIO’s global organizing and workers’ rights action group; and is the founding ambassador of ReFrame, an initiative that seeks to mitigate bias during the creative decision-making and hiring process.
Here are Carteris’ remarks to the FIA Congress:
I want to thank you all for your support – I am humbled by this body and honored to serve as your FIA President. This has been an amazing congress – we started off by longing to be together and though we are not in the same space so much incredibly great work was established.
I want to take a moment to recognize Ferne and her unwavering leadership. You have done so much for performers in Canada and all over the world – you have made an incredible difference. I have known you for many years now – and you have always been inspirational and supportive. You may be stepping down as FIA President but we will not be allowed to leave us – I will be reaching out for your wisdom and support.
I also want to say to the Members of the FIA Presidium and Executive – I have worked with many of you for quite awhile. Some of you are moving on – thank you for your service – you will be missed. Some of you are newly elected — welcome! I look forward to working together.
With the support of – as Ferne likes to say – the Mighty Secretariat — expertly led by Dominick -and his partnership with Durhbal and Anouk – this organization has grown and empowered hundreds of thousands of working people across the globe. Be proud. And of course, I want to thank my colleagues in SAG-AFTRA – my fellow elected leaders Executive Vice President Rebecca Damon and Secretary-Treasurer Camryn Manheim and our staff leadership – especially David White, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland,Ray Rodriguez, John McGuire and Pamela Greenwalt – your commitment to our members, to live performance, entertainment and media professionals everywhere – to labor as a whole…I could never be more proud – your support means the world to me.
What I have learned from this body has been elevating — it always is — Your commitment as leaders – your innovation and desire to make artists lives richer – It is empowering.
No matter where in the world FIA members live, no matter the politics we espouse, no matter our gender, age, or background, it is clear — we all share the same fundamental desires: To be seen and heard. To be treated with respect and dignity. To have a place where we belong. as a global federation that is the mission and first principle of FIA — to ensure that unity, solidarity, and workers’ rights live, breathe and thrive across all borders. Our world is smaller now than ever
We have spoken a great deal about the pandemic and its effect on our work – and though we are moving through this time I imagine we will be dealing with the repercussions for years to come. What we will need to do regarding mental health support for not only our members but for us as leaders – that will need to be discussed and worked on. There has been incredible devastation for all of us this last year – particularly for live performance. The first to close and unfortunately among the last to reopen – Rebuilding that vibrant and dynamic global live performance industry is a must.
Even with the challenges we are facing, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because with these challenges there are great opportunities. The collaboration this pandemic has ignited within our industry has highlighted how much better we can be when we are truly aligned. The information sharing, the problem solving, only highlights the most significant truth – we cannot do it alone.
That is why we are here and reaching out to each other – we recognize that we work for the same employers – that we live in a world where support of unions has grown among our citizens and at the same time governments all over the world are looking to break us down – to weaken our collective voice. So- when Dominick speaks of the ongoing work to ratify the Beijing Treaty and ensure it’s strength moving forward — we must lean in and do everything we can to make that a reality. Intellectual Property rights must be defended. Our image rights must be established. As artists, who we are is our only product – our work – our images – must be protected. As FIA president I am committed to seeing this through. Technology is expanding in ways that we must face, embrace and help direct.
The vast amount of emerging technologies that replicate our images, voices and performances must be understood so that we can protect artists helping them to thrive and not barely survive.
And with all this we must not lose sight of the protections our members need when working on stage, in studios and on sets – whether it is fighting sexual harassment, assault, bullying or discrimination – in truth we have just begun the real journey to end the systemic issues that have plagued our members throughout every country and union. That is exciting – because if this is how we begin – imagine where we can go?
I would like to leave you with this: We stand together until the end. United in purpose. I see you – I hear you and I support you. Because I am you. And, together we can, we will, we must.