Esai Morales wants your vote. No, he’s not running for office, not that kind of political office, at least. The La Bamba and NYPD Blue actor is campaigning to be the next president of SAG-AFTRA, the all-encompassing actors’ guild in Hollywood. He’s running on a Membership First platform that puts members and their rapidly-changing concerns at the heart of the union’s messaging. “We want the union to function as it was designed, to include the democratic involvement of its members and officers,” the actor told Deadline. “Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, we get no cooperation.” Frustrated with the most recent string of negotiations, he hopes his election will steer SAG-AFTRA back to its core goals: standing up for its members.
As in any other election, Morales has found himself not just trying to bring up issues but fending off attacks from opponents on the other side. That would include current SAG-AFTRA president (and Beverly Hills, 90210 alum) Gabrielle Carteris. According to Morales, Carteris’ Unite For Strength slate has attacked his record and Membership First has responded by threatening to file an election fraud complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor should Carteris try and resign a seat to hand it to one of her supporters as she did two years ago.
Addressing the attacks on his record as well as his desire to want to push beyond “petty politics,” Morales talked at length with Deadline about what he sees as a disparity between SAG-AFTRA members and the staff that make-up the long-standing union. Indeed, much of what the actor would like to work on should he become SAG-AFTRA president concerns issues of pensions, overtime work, and the kind of granular concerns that make a difference in a working actor’s life. Morales, who’s currently shooting the Ron Howard-directed miniseries Mars, is eager to put the focus on these important discussions front and center. And he hopes members submitting their ballots (due August 24) do so as well.