LONDON: Amid the pro-Palestine protests that have been taking place around the world since the conflict in Gaza began two months ago, several Hollywood stars have been penalized for publicly voicing support for the Palestinian people.
The United Talent Agency, for example, dropped the veteran, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon as a client. Production company Spyglass Media Group fired Melissa Barrera from her leading role in “Scream VII.” And Tom Cruise’s agent, Maha Dakhil had to resign from her leadership role with the Creative Artists Agency.
All three had publicly stood in solidarity with Palestinians and in opposition to Israel’s occupation and war crimes in Gaza.
Sarandon has attended several pro-Palestinian rallies and stated that criticism of the State of Israel should not in itself be considered antisemitic.
“To see somebody (like Sarandon) who is an American legend standing up for Palestinian people is amazing,” said Hamzah Semaan, a casting director and member of the Casting Society of America, told Arab News. “Why would (the agent) drop a legendary actress? A million people will pick her up.”
Barrera, who is from Mexico, appeared in the two most recent films in the “Scream” franchise but was fired from her lead role in the upcoming “Scream VII” after she took to social media to share pro-Palestinian views and referred to Israel as a “colonized” land. Spyglass said the company has zero tolerance for antisemitism.
Semaan said he admires Barrera as a “great actress” who helped to revive the Scream franchise, and criticized the decision “to just toss her for that.”
He added: “The industry is racist and it’s just the way it is. If it’s not racist, why do you have diversity in Hollywood programs and diversity in Hollywood awareness? We don’t need that awareness because we know what’s right and wrong. But no, a lot of people don’t.”
Many actors have also voiced support for Israel but it is difficult to know the true stance of many others on the Palestinian cause given that speaking out could cost them their jobs.
Jenna Ortega, for example, might face challenges in her career after dropping out of “Scream VII” a day after Barrera was fired. The official reason given was the shooting schedule for season two of her Netflix TV series “Wednesday” but the timing led some, including Semaan, to question whether she had dropped out “in protest of that.”
He added: “That just shows the impact of what the younger generation is doing. Younger people are united to the truth.”
This month, more than 1,300 artists, including Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman and BAFTA winners Aimee Lou Wood and Siobhan McSweeney, signed an open letter accusing arts and cultural institutions in Western countries of “repressing, silencing and stigmatizing Palestinian voices and perspectives.”