Jinkx Monsoon urges drag stars not to take roles during SAG strike: ‘You’ll be considered a scab’

Drag Race star Jinkx Monsoon in a blue dress standing against a pink background made up of signs held up on the sag-aftra picket line.

RuPaul’s Drag Race star Jinkx Monsoon has issued advice for fellow queer actors and drag stars amid the ongoing actors’ strike.

On 13 July, the American actors’ union SAG-AFTRA announced that it would be calling a strike, with its 160,000 members walking out of all acting projects for the foreseeable future.

Production on hotly-anticipated films and shows including Wicked and Stranger Things has been halted, with the union’s rules meaning that promotion must also be stopped. Last week, the stars of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Oppenheimer walked out of the London premiere following the announcement of the strike.

For the first time in 60 years, actors will join the 11,500 TV and film writers who are already on strike. Writers have been on the picket line since May, with little prospect of reaching an agreement with studios and streaming services in the immediate future. 

The actors’ union is fighting for better pay residuals and against actors’ likeness being reproduced by AI, while writers are demanding better and fairer pay, and improved working conditions.

While big names including Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix and Jamie Lee Curtis are SAG-AFTRA members and will halt their work as part of the strike, the industry is full of queer performers who will also have to stop working.

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SAG-AFTRA members strike in Los Angeles.
SAG-AFTRA members strike in Los Angeles. (Getty/Anadolu Agency)

Now, two-time Drag Race champion and Broadway star Jinkx Monsoon has detailed why the entertainment industry is still hardest for LGBTQ+ performers – but eloquently explained why queer actors still shouldn’t cross the picket line. 

Addressing her “fellow drag entertainers, queer artists, queer entertainers, content creators and influencers” via Instagram, the 35-year-old SAG-AFTRA member warned that those who take screen work while the strike exists will be seen as “scabs”.

A ‘scab’ is a derogatory term for someone who decides to break an industry strike by taking on work.

“I know firsthand that drag artists, queer entertainers, we are not fully taken seriously yet. Especially drag artists. Lots of times we’re treated like a novelty,” she began.

“I know as a queer entertainer you never know when your next gig is coming and we live off our gigs so it’s scary to turn down work. But if a company approaches you right now to promote new work, to act in new work, to write for new work, and you take that job, you will be considered a ‘scab’,” the Drag Race icon said.

Jinkx urged queer performers to think of the consequences of working during the strike, saying that SAG-AFTRA would not allow those who break the strike to join the union in future.

“This could affect your career in the long run when this strike is over. Taking a job right now could prevent you from getting work in the future,” she warned.

“Furthermore, taking a job right now, even though it might be a good opportunity, it might be a good pay check, you will be undermining the efforts we are trying to make to get better circumstances for all actors, including queer artists, drag artists and marginalised entertainers.”

She called for all queer entertainers to show “solidarity” by joining the strike, adding: “Hollywood thinks drag artists are interchangeable with each other. Let us not prove them right. Support one another in this strike.”

After facing some criticism for filming the video while in a makeup dressing room, the drag superstar explained that live entertainers are not on strike, just screen actors – meaning live comics, musicians and stage actors can continue as normal.

Jinkx’s fellow drag stars and Hollywood actors thanked her for the support and the clarification, with American Horror Story’s Cheyenne Jackson commenting: “Reason 4,582 why I love you. Drag queens and queer artists certainly are NOT interchangeable and it’s powerful to hear that spoken aloud.”

All Stars 8 contestant Mrs Kasha Davis added: “Helpful info, thanks.”

While Jinkx Monsoon will not be filming any TV shows or films in the near future, Doctor Who fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as her groundbreaking part in the upcoming 14th season has already been filmed and will air in 2024. 

Jinkx Monsoon in Doctor Who
Drag Race icon Jinkx Monsoon has confirmed that queer talent is “taking up space” in the new season of Doctor Who. (BBC)

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