Who is Fran Drescher? The SAG-AFTRA president explained

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
the nanny title card

She’s the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan…and now Fran Drescher is leading the charge of the recent actors strikes.

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.

SAG-AFTRA – a combination of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – is the world’s largest performer and broadcasters union, representing more than 160,000  media artists. It is this union that is leading the actor’s strike in the US.

But during these strikes, you may have seen many clips of SAG’s president, Fran Drescher. But who is she, and where have you seen her before? Read on, and we’ll explain.

In what movies and shows has Drescher appeared?

Born in 1957, Drescher came to acting prominence in the 1980s and 90s, first having small roles in films such as Saturday Night Fever and This is Spinal Tap.

Her biggest role to date is Fran Fine in popular CBS sitcom The Nanny, which she co-created with her then husband Peter Marc Jacobson. As described by Sony Pictures, Drescher’s character was a working-class girl “with a face out of Vogue and a voice out of Queens who stumbles onto the opportunity to become nanny to the children of a wealthy widower.” The show ran for six seasons from 1993 to 1999, and earned Drescher two Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations. 

Funnily enough, Fran Fine was also an outspoken strike supporter, and one memorable scene from the show involves her refusing to cross a picket line with her employer, Mr Sheffield. She states to Sheffield, “My mother had three rules: Never make contact with a public toilet; never, ever, ever cross a picket line, what was the third one? Oh yeah – never wear musk oil to the zoo.”

After the show ended and Drescher and Jacobson divorced due to his coming out as gay, they remained close friends and business partners, even developing another series together, called Happily Divorced.

Drescher has also appeared on the show Living with Fran, and voices a character in the animated Hotel Transylvania film series.

Fran Drescher’s role in SAG-AFTRA and the strikes

Drescher now seemingly spends most of her time as an activist, whether it comes to promoting cancer research, criticising oil drilling and pharmaceutical companies, or, of course, working for actor’s rights.

Drescher became SAG’S president after a campaign against actor Matthew Modine in 2021. Her campaign focused on dealing with “dysfunctional division” within the union, explain to Deadline that “I see reunification as one great and powerful SAG-AFTRA body as the only way to frontline for empowering and protecting members.” 

Now, she has led the charge in the SAG-AFTRA strikes, which began last week after pay and work condition negotiation attempts failed between the union and big Hollywood studios. As part of the strike, actors can no longer work on any major feature films or scripted television, and they cannot promote any of their projects that fall under those current contracts.

As Drescher said in a speech, “We had no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it. Quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead our money, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them.”

She has also been a large voice of support for the current Writer’s Guild strikes, stating (via CBS News), “What’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor by means of when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority, and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run.”

Read more about the SAG-AFTRA strikes here.