To commemmorate 31 years in film and television, the 'Knocked Up' actress reaffirmed her support for fair and humane working conditions for crew members.
Katherine Heigl has been in the film and television industry for 31 years now. To commemorate her time in Hollywood, she uploaded a post to Facebook. However, rather than highlighting her personal achievements, the actress used the opportunity to bring awareness to the exploitative working conditions that crews and actors in the industry face. Expressing her support for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union behind entertainment, live events, and motion pictures, Heigl stood in solidarity with crews across all sets. She called for reasonable and fair work conditions, wages, and hours for all in the industry.
Heigl begins her post by pointing out the significant roles that crew members have played in her career, particularly when she was first starting out in Hollywood as a teenager (she made her film debut at the age of 14 in That Night). She writes, "I grew up on film sets and the crews I’ve always been surrounded by have been a kind of family to me. I’ve had makeup artists talk me through the bullying years of middle school. I’ve had costumers walk me through bad breakups in high school. I’ve had grips and camera operators and sound engineers stop to check in with me and connect about our families and our lives and our partners. I’ve had ADs and PAs go out of their way to make me smile or laugh or relieve some of the tension and stress from long hours on set. I’ve had transportation drivers who have told me their stories and I, them. I’ve celebrated life’s big and small milestones with my crews."
"The crews I’ve worked with all these many many years have been just as instrumental in making me who I am as anything else lasting and important in my life," she continues. "They have been family in that way and I have always and will always continue to support and stand by them. Some of you may remember over ten years ago I was very vocal about the absurdity of the working hours crews and actors were being forced into by production... I very publicly and for many many years after got my ass kicked for speaking up." Many will remember Heigl was canceled overnight after facing numerous accusations of "being hostile" and "high maintenance," particularly following her short stint on hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy.
Noting her learnings, the actress goes on, "I let that public spanking shut me up and shut me down. I took a very big step back from the hustle of my career and retreated into the woods of Utah. I spent a fair amount of time struggling with self-confidence and self-worth. I let myself be convinced that I was wrong. Very very wrong. That speaking out made me seem ungrateful or precious or as if I were 'biting the hand that fed me.'" However, as she celebrates her 43rd birthday, Heigl reaffirms that she would not stay silent while workers continued to be exploited. "I speak up today and say with zero hesitation or regret... 14, 16, 17, 18-hour workdays are NOT safe," she states. "They are NOT healthy. They can not and should NO longer be tolerated."
Acknowledging her own privileges to say no to certain roles and prioritize her health and sanity, the 27 Dresses star reiterates the need for fair and humane working conditions for crew members. Heigl concludes, "When production plows into hour 14 and beyond, they are asking our crews to drive themselves home bone tired. The number of people who have fallen asleep at the wheel is staggering. The number of accidents that happen on set due to exhaustion are shocking. Illness both mental and physical is off the charts. There is nothing glamorous or sexy about working past the point of exhaustion. There is nothing, NOTHING that warrants pushing yourself into an early grave... [This post] is for the crew. It is for my family from another mother. It is for the champions and support systems and talented badasses that I have the privilege of working with. I stand with IATSE. It is time for reasonable and fair work conditions, wages, and hours to be more than just a priority. They need to be the norm. Period. To all the crews on all the sets all over this great big world of ours. I support you. I stand with you. I thank you. Not one show. Not one movie. Can exist without you."