As a member of WGA and SAG-AFTRA, actor, writer and producer Katie O’Brien (TV Land’s Teachers, Disney+’s The Santa Clauses) is double striking. But she’s found a way to fill her time while also supporting fellow picketers.
O’Brien is selling custom hats (with a suggested donation of $25 a hat) with catchy slogans — “It’s Giving Corporate Greed” and “ChatGPT Wrote This” — through her Instagram account (@katieclaireobrien).
O’Brien had already been collaborating with Leah Bubeck of Rollyhog Embroidery on merch for The Buzz, an all-female networking group that she co-created, so when the strike happened, she pivoted with Bubeck to make custom hats in an effort that has double meaning.
“It’s been a great way to exercise creativity with writing and also help out,” O’Brien tells THR. She’s sold 120 hats and raised $3,500 through suggested donations, money that has been dispersed to the picket lines through strike captains who have been using the dough to buy water, snacks and other essentials.
“[Demand] has been continuing to grow, and it’s been picking up a lot of steam in the past week,” O’Brien notes on the heels of the actor’s strike. “I did not expect it to become a little business but that’s what it has turned into. It’s been sort of a full-time job that has been fun to do.”
Less fun is navigating this current moment without work to pay the bills. “I’ve worked as an actor and writer for 10 years. Why it’s so hard now is that we were already getting paid so little so going months on end without working is so painful. All I’m doing is trying to stay optimistic and trying to figure out ways to survive in this city and hope that when this is all said and done, the business can come back in a better way to support writers and actors. Even though it’s a horrible time, it’s a necessary time.”
This story first appeared in the July 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.