Dwayne Johnson makes huge “historic” donation amid actors’ strikes

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
dwayne the rock and sag-aftra

As the SAG-AFTRA actors’ strikes continue, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson proves what a rock he is, after donating a historic amount to the cause.

Hollywood has been in turmoil these past few months, from the WGA strike that began in May, to the “historic director’s deal,” and now actors are joining the fight against exploitative executives, as part of SAG-AFTRA.

Now, these strikes are due to actors not getting fair pay and residuals for their work. But obviously, these strikes are making it so that actors will get no money, which no doubt will be a struggle.

However, a fund has been raised to help support the strikers, and one major actor has donated a major amount: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, star of films such as Black Adam, Jumanji, and San Andreas.

What is the SAG-AFTRA Foundation?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation – a non-profit organization associated with the union, but not directly part of it – created a fund that would provide financial relief to many of the union’s 160,000 members: The Emergency Financial Assistance Program. The programme grants up to $1,500 of support per member, but in extreme conditions such as health issues, a lifetime member can receive up to $6,000.

This of course will now be relied upon for the strike, since every union member has been asked to stop working. And especially since, as stated by a studio executive to Deadline, “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”

At the beginning of the strike, SAG-AFTRA Foundation president Courtney B. Vance and executive director Cyd Wilson wrote a letter to thousands of the union’s highest-earning actors, asking for support.

“Having been through this during COVID and having such a great response from our own membership to take care of their own, when the strike was decided, Courtney and I sat down with our team and said, ‘Here we go again,’” Wilson explained to Variety. “We rely on donations and grants to provide services – we have been very fortunate that we raised enough money to be able to cover all of our programs.

“But when we hit a crisis like this and we’re going to spend millions and millions of dollars in financial assistance, this is when we need our high profile talent who can afford it, who are in a situation to help others.”

Dwayne Johnson donates a rock’s worth to SAG-AFTRA

Shortly after the letter was sent, Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock’s team reached out to provide help. And help he did, by providing a seven-figure donation, which will no doubt aid thousands of actors.

Vance and Wilson kept the exact donation number confidential, but Vance noted his gratitude, “This is him saying, ‘In such a time as this, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere, whatever you need me to do.’ And that sends a huge message to other folks to do the same thing. It is a call to arms for all of us to know that we just have to step up however you can.

“Everyone knows what happens when you go on strike, when you stand for something – as the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything – you can’t stand unless you have support underneath you, on the side, up top and up front. So Dwayne is letting everyone know, ‘I’m here. What are you going to do?'”

Johnson has of course been beloved by Hollywood and audiences alike, and this support for SAG-AFTRA will only continue that good will, as it will keep many artists afloat during these turbulent times.

As stated by Wilson, “It’s the largest single donation that we’ve ever received from one individual at one time. And what is amazing is that that one check is going to help thousands of actors keep food on their table, and keep their kids safe, and keep their cars running. And it’s not lost on me that he’s very humble about this, but it is a way to get us started.

“For him to step up like this is really going to get us started in the fundraising that we’re going I need to do, because everything we’re hearing and seeing, we feel we have to be prepared that this could go on through the end of the year. We’re going to have to be able to help these people in the long run. We have 160,000 SAG-AFTRA performers and that’s a lot of people that are going to need our help. This donation is the kickstart we needed in the first week of what we think will be a long haul.

Vance agreed, adding: “All that we’re doing is about folks who are on those picket lines and letting the powers that be know that we’re here, we’re not going anywhere, we deserve better and won’t settle for less. So I’m grateful to our membership; I’m grateful to our leaders in our organization; I’m grateful to the leaders in the union — Fran Drescher and the negotiating committee. We’ll get there, it’s gonna take a minute but we’re gonna get there.

“I want to thank Dwayne for his tremendous generosity, compassion, and initiative to step up in this significant and meaningful way for our community. On behalf of the thousands who will be helped by his historic donation, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

If you want to read more about the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, including about how to apply for donations, visit sagaftra.foundation/emergencyassistance.

And to find out more about the SAG-AFTRA strikes, click here.