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The WGA strike and its work-stoppage left thousands of writers with an indefinite amount of free time to fill their days. Some are spending it on the picket lines, while others are tending to their personal lives. On May 10, close to 400 striking writers did both by mixing picketing and pleasure at the inaugural “Strike Up a Romance,” an inclusive, 21+ singles picket and party.
The event — co-hosted by a team of Hollywood scribes including LJ Matchmaking’s Jaydi Samuels Kuba and Lauren Rosenberg with Debby Wolfe, Marcos Luevanos and Deanna Shumaker — kicked off with a four-hour protest at the Universal Studios gates followed by an evening mixer over margaritas at Roadside Taco on Ventura Boulevard. Name tags and colored markers helped scribes signal their dating preferences (pink for interested in women, blue for men, purple for people and red for “wing person”) while the circumstances provided the social lubricant.
“The strike is an easy icebreaker to start a conversation or start flirting,” explained Wolfe, a showrunner on Lopez vs. Lopez who admitted she had yet to use it herself as she was too busy smoothing out logistics with her party partners. But she did take a few minutes with THR to explain one of the inspirations for such a matchmaking event.
“We’re younger writers who weren’t part of the original strike, but we heard these legends circulating in the rooms over the past decade about people meeting their spouses during the 2007 strike. When this one happened, everyone got excited to see if we could make that happen again,” said Wolfe, who then offered another reason. “I work 15-hour days, seven days a week. This strike is an opportunity for me to have some time to actually date and meet someone.”
That has long been a challenge for writers, offered Luevanos, another co-host who serves as a Lopez vs. Lopez co-executive producer. “Los Angeles, inherently, can be a very, very lonely place for people to not just find love but also friends. So, when you’re in a scary situation like this, it’s good to find connection, even if it’s not romantic. You can meet someone platonically as a friend just to have someone to talk to and process what we’re all going through.”
There definitely was a lot of chatter happening, and THR even witnessed one ice-breaking moment. While waiting in line for the restroom, a man introduced himself to a woman by leaning on the historic circumstances. “What do you think of the strike so far?” he asked. She smiled and shrugged her shoulders, “Fine, so far.” That might not be the best dialogue to inspire a romantic comedy rooted in the 2023 strike, but there’s still time to sort all that out as many are predicting the stoppage to continue for at least the coming weeks if not longer.
No word yet on if any singles matched during the afternoon or evening sessions, but sitting on a patio packed with wordsmiths, Samuels Kuba said the day exceeded expectations. “We’ve already been in talks with the guild leadership to figure out a way to do this more regularly because clearly, this is something that generated a lot of excitement and is getting people out for a two-pronged effort. Might as well kill two birds with one stone and find love on the lines.”
Speaking of, according to insiders (and Twitter chatter), the picket lines at Netflix have emerged as, ahem, the horniest of them all. (“Stop taking your horny asses to Netflix and go to a studio that needs more picketers,” tweeted Abbott Elementary writer Brittani Nichols on May 9.) “It’s definitely a party over there,” Wolfe noted. “I think everyone can agree that we are all upset with Netflix because they’re the worst offender. So, it seems like a good site to meet someone because emotions are high over there.”
While some are looking for love, others say they should focus on the historic reckoning for writers and nothing more. To those critics, Samuels Kuba said the event is only meant “to enhance what’s already happening.”
She added, “I feel like people who have that criticism, are they saying that we should just be angry and scream for six hours at a time and not talk to each other and not try to make the best of a bad situation? We’re writers. We’re great at multitasking. We can write, we can direct, we can produce, a lot of us are multi-hyphenates already, so we’re used to wearing different hats at the same time. I say there is no reason that we cannot try to get these studios to come back to the table and get what we’re asking for and also find love at the same time. Those critics sound like haters against love.”
Wolfe agreed. “Everyone needs to realize that we don’t know when we are going to have jobs in the future, so if we want to just try and find a silver lining through this and have a little fun, that’s OK.”
While the “Strike Up a Romance” event provided the in-real-life forum for scribes to search for love, the @WGAStrikeBaes Twitter account offered a digital option. Launched on May 2 by writer Leila Cohan-Miccio (Bridgerton) and modeled after Craigslist’s Missed Connections, the account was meant to help bring together shy scribes who had trouble mustering the courage to say hello. “I couldn’t help but notice the picket lines were full of attractive people,” she announced on Twitter to largely positive response. However, if you blinked you would’ve missed that it existed at all.
The account was deleted within days of launch. THR reached out to a rep for Cohan-Miccio for clarity but had yet to hear back as of press time. In the meantime, several users on Twitter blamed trolls for spamming the account with offensive posts. Fire Island’s Joel Kim Booster tweeted that something “weird and transphobic” was shared, and maybe that means it’s time to “pack it in and focus on picketing.”
Meanwhile, near the bar at Roadside Taco, THR found one man standing on the patio surrounded by female friends and sipping a soda with a name tag on his chest that identified himself simply as “Available.” He did have a name (Chas) and a reason for attending (a chance encounter?). “I don’t think my person’s here,” he said as he scanned the scene, sounding slightly deflated by not having met anyone yet. “But all my friends are here, so I figured since we’re all in one spot, we have to come out and commune with each other.” Chas trekked to the Valley from the picket line at Paramount Pictures, where it was like “a family reunion” with his fellow screenwriters. “We served, we chanted, we had a really good time.”
Asked why picket lines are inspiring such flirtation, Chas explained that it’s simple. “As writers, we never come together in a forum this large. We’re always sanctioned off in smaller rooms or at home. When we’re all together, it’s like, why not?” Still, he didn’t seem entirely optimistic that he would find a date. “You’re the first person who has come up to me tonight.”
A version of this story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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