SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris officially opened the third biennial SAG-AFTRA National Convention Friday morning by joining members in acknowledging the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas and the victims of recent hurricanes that have devastated Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast.

As a musical tribute, SAG-AFTRA members Dan Navarro, Carlos Ricketts, Gerald White, Jim Ferguson and Jasper Randall sang John Lennon's “Imagine” in commemoration.

Delegates then heard a keynote conversation featuring director and producer Nancy Meyers (Private Benjamin, What Women Want) facilitated by Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz. Meyers reflected on opportunities for women in the entertainment industry. 

“The statistics say it’s just as bad as it’s ever been, but there’s more talk about it,” she said. “There’s more industry conversation.” Meyers said that part of the problem is that executives interpret the success of a female-directed or female-starring film as a fluke. “A movie about a woman does well and we’re not flooding the market,” she said. 

Meyers also advised the audience to work on projects they felt passionate about. “The best movies come from people who so believe in the material,” she said. “Don’t try to package something. Tell the right story, because you’re going to work your ass off for a very long time.” 

During the convention session, delegates nominated and elected the union’s eight national vice presidents, including the executive vice president.

Rebecca Damon was reelected Executive Vice President.

The following are the results of the election of vice presidents. Candidates who ran unopposed are indicated by an asterisk. Each position is for two years.

  • Clyde Kusatsu, National Vice President, Los Angeles 
  • Liz Zazzi, National Vice President, New York*  
  • Ilyssa Fradin, National Vice President, Mid-Sized Locals
  • Suzanne Burkhead, National Vice President, Small Locals*
  • Samantha Mathis, National Vice President, Actors/Performers
  • Catherine Brown, National Vice President, Broadcasters*
  • Dan Navarro, National Vice President, Recording Artists/Singers* 

The first day included the opening of the convention expo, featuring partner organizations providing important and useful information to delegates and members.

This evening, delegates will attend A Legendary Evening, a gala celebration at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood, which includes the presentation of the American Scene Awards and George Heller Memorial Award honors.

Tomorrow, the convention continues with a report from National Executive Director David White, business sessions, as well afternoon panels and workshops.

The SAG-AFTRA National Convention runs Oct. 5-8 at the Sheraton Universal in Universal City. For more information about the SAG-AFTRA inaugural convention, please visit

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