Boots Riley Cites Payday in Explaining Why He’s Not Promoting His Show during the Writers’ Strike

Out of solidarity with the Writers' Strike, Filmmaker Boots Riley is refusing to put his new show "I Am a Virgo" that Amazon plans to release the summer. (Boots Riley/Twitter)

Writing in Deadline today, filmmaker Boots Riley, director of “Sorry to Bother You”, cited Payday Report’s Strike Tracker, in explaining why he would not be promoting his new Amazon Original Series “I Am a Virgo” set to be released this summer.

Explaining that the studio would likely release his show without his consent this summer, Riley explained the personal pain that he felt in not being able to promote the program that he had worked on for 4 years. From Deadline:

You’d think that when I was told that I shouldn’t promote my show, having been an organizer, it’d have been an easy choice with no second thoughts.

But it wasn’t, it was a really hard thing to process. Hard partly because I’m an artist who has become a little narcissistic as I’ve had to think that whatever art I’m doing is the most important thing in the world- just to push through the many obstacles and get it done.

No part of me thought that I wasn’t going to do the right thing. But if it’s hard for me, think about how this act of solidarity is obviously hard for many others with projects just as dear to them, but who have not had the experiences I’ve had.

Further complicating things, the DGA sent out a letter to its hyphenate members who were also WGA, clarifying that the DGA can’t legally advise its members to stop working. But in the face of all of that, multi-hyphenate WGA members, showrunners and directors, in droves, have stopped all work on their projects — sacrificing and showing a level of solidarity that was not seen in the 2007 strike.

This level of solidarity is being seen all across the industry, with teamsters and IATSE members refusing to cross WGA picket lines, and inspiring stories like the office full of VFX workers walking off in support of a WGA picket.

This solidarity isn’t coming out of nowhere. And the cultural and political context that brought people to this point is the same reason this strike is so important.

Over the past three years, according to labor news site PayDayReport, there have been over 2900 strikes and work stoppages in the US, making this the biggest US strike wave since the 1940s. Many of these strikes are in workplaces that were not unionized, others were forced by the membership against the advice of their old-school leadership. Most of these strikes are only talked about in local news and most mainstream national news outlets won’t talk about it in context. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts strikes of 1000 people or more, which is ridiculous (the fictional strike in Sorry To Bother You was only 500 people, it wouldn’t have been counted). .

We’re at a new juncture.

Please, go to Deadline to read the rest of the piece in-depth. Boots talks in-depth about how the Writer’s Strike represents a larger strike against how AI is going to take away jobs throughout a variety of industries.

Take a few minutes to read the full piece on the strike by Boots Riley

Big thanks to Boots Riley for citing our work and promoting Payday Report for so many years. While we may be a small publication, we certainly have a big impact including on big-name filmmakers like Boots Riley. (Be sure to also check Payday’s 71-minute interview with Boots Riley in 2021)

Donate to Help Us Continue to Influence How Filmmakers like Boots Riley Covers Workers

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

Be the first to comment on "Boots Riley Cites Payday in Explaining Why He’s Not Promoting His Show during the Writers’ Strike"

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.