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​Duncan Crabtree-Ireland
Photo by Luke Fontana

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland

Meet one of the artists, disruptors, educators, groundbreakers, innovators, and storytellers who all helped make the world a better place for LGBTQ+ people.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland — the national executive director and chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA — oversees the world’s largest entertainment union, which boasts over 160,000 members. And along with SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, he’s one of the faces of their strike over a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

As one of the few out leaders of a major entertainment group, Crabtree-Ireland knows that the fight for labor and LGBTQ+ equality go hand in hand. “One of the things that we’re fighting for is basic equity, inclusion, and fairness in the industry,” he says. “And I’m proud to say that SAG-AFTRA has been at the forefront of making sure that the entire American scene is represented on film, television, and streaming — and that’s a fight that we’re in for the long run.”

And there is a lesson to be learned from the strike to advance change, which is the power of solidarity. “When we stand together and when we fight together, that’s how we win,” he says. “Division always weakens us. Unity strengthens us.”

The outcome of Crabtree-Ireland’s advocacy through the SAG-AFTRA strike will determine the future of how actors and other entertainment professionals are treated in show business, as technological advances like streaming services and AI impact their careers and livelihoods. But the country’s largest strike in 26 years has also helped fuel a revolution for workers in hospitality, the automotive industry, and beyond.

This revolution shows the power of a compelling narrative. In fact, one of his biggest challenges during the strike was the task of clearly communicating SAG-AFTRA’s message “with the rest of the community, the industry, and the world so that everyone understood why we’re in the fight that we’re in, and how it was going to change everything for the better.” Clearly, the message has gotten through.

This year, Crabtree-Ireland is proud “to fight against the biggest companies in the world and say we demand to be treated with respect and fairness.” @duncanci


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