“Visibility, advocacy, consistency, loyalty, vision, inspiration, leadership. These are all words you could use to describe our friend Robert,” Local Board member Todd A. Robinson told the capacity crowd at the Portland Local’s 2020 SAG Awards viewing party on Jan. 19. Robinson went on to explain that these qualities, embodied by former SAG-AFTRA Portland Local president Robert Blanche, will be guiding principles in determining future recipients of the local’s new award: the Robert Blanche Service Award.
Each year, the Blanche Award will be given to a member of the Portland Local who has shown consistent service and dedication to their union, their local and their community. Each October, the Local Board will form an ad-hoc committee to oversee the process of soliciting nominations from the membership, choosing that year’s honoree from those nominations, producing the physical award at a union shop and presenting the award at the local’s annual SAG Awards viewing party.
As Robinson and Local Awards Committee member Danny Bruno noted at the 2020 SAG Awards viewing party, the Committee had planned to present the 2020 award to its namesake. With Blanche’s death on Jan. 3, though, the committee decided to present the award posthumously to honor the former Portland Local president. His wife, Christine Blanche, accepted the award in a heartfelt ceremony.
“Robert always fought for what was right for all people,” Blanche said when she accepted the award. “That was what drove him. That’s why he was such a good friend, such a good leader and such a good advocate… I know he’s really proud of whatever we’re doing.”
Many in the Portland Local agree no one could replace Robert Blanche, but there are those who have done their best to live up to the example he set. Start thinking now of who those local members are so they can be nominated for the 2021 Robert Blanche Service Award at the end of the year — and until that nomination period begins, Portland members, do your best to #BeLikeBlanche.
Photo: Portland Awards Committee member Danny Bruno presents the inaugural Robert Blanche Service Award at the 2020 SAG Awards Viewing Party. Photo by Harold Phillips.
- Local News