In the wake of the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) joint strikes against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), two actors working in Chicago have already begun envisioning a transformed future for the television and film industry. 

For more than 130 days, the industry in Chicago has been stopped by the strikes — a period which began with the announcement of a WGA strike on May 2 and was followed by the announcement of a SAG-AFTRA strike on July 13.

The TRiiBE spoke to two SAG-AFTRA members who have worked in Chicago about how they are handling the strike and what they hope happens following its conclusion.

Andy Allo: actress/singer/director, SAG-AFTRA member

Andy Allo, a SAG-AFTRA member and lead actress, told The TRiiBE during a Sept. 10 in-person interview at the sixth annual True Chicago Conference that the strike was “historic,” not just for actors and writers, but also for the individuals working behind the scenes.

“I think there is such beauty in that we get to show appreciation for those that work really hard that often don’t get their flowers,” Allo said. “I think as actors we are at the forefront; you get to see our faces on your screens, but there are thousands of people behind the scenes that make that possible, and those amazing folks are getting incredibly affected by this strike.”

Allo, a veteran actress with more than 10 years’ worth of TV and film credits to her name, emphasized the importance of solidarity throughout all entertainment-related unions, noting also that the road ahead might get harder before it gets easier. Her career includes a recurring role on “Chicago Fire,” in three episodes of the dramedy series “The Game,” and a supporting role in the 2017 film Pitch Perfect 3.

“I am completely in solidarity with our sister union, WGA, and IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), and any of the unions that make it possible to do what we do on a daily basis in this industry,” Allo said. “I think as long as we all hunker down, and we are able to stand side-by-side and support each other I think we will all be better for it.”

Looking ahead to the days after the strike, Allo said she’s “optimistic” that the solidarity forged among members of the various entertainment unions, as well as within SAG-AFTRA itself during the strike, will continue.

“I think this experience is bringing us together in a stronger way, and also because we all love what we do, I think when the strike is over everyone is going to be very ready and excited to jump back into work,” Allo said.

The multi-hyphenated star is no stranger to the Windy City. Allo said she was first introduced to Chicago while filming.

“Chicago has a welcoming energy, and you can feel the love here,”  Allo said. “It is one of my favorite cities to be in and to work in. I love being here.”

Charles Andrew Gardner, SAG-AFTRA Chicago local president

SAG-AFTRA Chicago local president Charles Andrew Gardner told The TRiiBE via a phone call on Sept. 5 that he hopes the union’s membership recognizes how strong they are as a collective and for observers in the general public to recognize the strike is a labor fight.

“Each time I go out to a rally, each time I go out to a strike action, I see more and more new faces of members. I am also seeing more faces of other union members coming out to support us and stand in solidarity,” Gardner said.

“The general actor is a laborer. A lot of times we are working check-to-check. We are working to keep food on our tables, we are working to keep our lights on, we are working to pay rent, our mortgage, to put our kids through school, or just to live a comfortable life,” Gardner continued. “Those people are being affected right now. So, the longer this goes on I am hoping that people really just ask themselves, ‘What would I do if I were out of work for 50 days?’ And not because of my own doing, not because I am not showing up, but because the people who have the power to say ‘yes’ to fair wages and working conditions are just saying, ‘no, we are not going to come back to the table.’”

Gardner described the overall morale of Chicago local members as positive despite the reality of being out of work.

“Solidarity and morale, at least in my eyes, is pretty good in Chicago. Everybody that I talk to, they are grateful for what the staff and what our negotiating team is doing,” Gardner said. “They’re grateful for all of the opportunities for us to come out and make some noise so that way the AMPTP hears us all the way from Chicago and that the general public hears us, too.” 

A Whitney M. Young Magnet High School alumnus, Gardner, who was recently re-elected for his fourth term as the SAG-AFTRA Chicago local president, said he felt “honored” to be trusted to lead the union of nearly 5,600 local members before the COVID-19 pandemic, during the pandemic’s initial outbreak, during the current strike, and beyond.

“My heart is full. I am truly honored and grateful for the opportunity, and I am fully aware of the responsibility, and I am happy to step up to the charge,” he said.

is a freelance contributor for The Triibe.