EXCLUSIVE: Former SAG-AFTRA national secretary-treasurer Jane Austin, who finished third in the union’s presidential election two years ago, is throwing her support this time to presidential candidate Matthew Modine and his running mate Joely Fisher, who’s running for secretary-treasurer.
SAG-AFTRA has two main political factions – the Unite for Strength ruling party (and its USAN affiliate on the East Coast), which have been headed by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris – and the Membership First opposition party, which is headed by Modine. But in 2019, when Austin ran for president as an independent candidate, she came in third with 5,048 votes, behind Carteris with 13,537 votes and Modine with 10,682 votes – splitting the opposition vote and ensuring that neither Carteris nor Modine would receive a majority of the votes.
Carteris isn’t seeking re-election this year, but is running for reelection to the national board, is backing Fran Drescher for president and Anthony Rapp for secretary-treasurer on the Unite for Strength ticket. Austin, a stuntwoman who is also a former president of the union’s Los Angeles Local, pointed out that Drescher, unlike Modine, who serves on the national board, has never held elected office at SAG-AFTRA.
“I am confident that Matthew Modine has taken his years on the national and local boards to fully educate himself with the internal workings of the union and the external challenges,” she said in a statement. “Along with his impressive career, his union board and committee service well-positions him to hit the ground running. The post of national president is challenging and is not one that someone can just step into without any previous union experience.”
Austin said that she is also “proud to support former national board member Joely Fisher for secretary-treasurer, an office which I held for four years. Joely not only has the legacy of her mother, Connie Stevens, who served in this role, but also a breadth of knowledge about SAG-AFTRA and a lifetime of entertainment industry experience.”
Austin, who is running for reelection to the SAG-AFTRA national and local boards, said that “should I be fortunate to get re-elected to the boards, it would be my honor to serve with Matthew and Joely.”