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Susan Sarandon dropped by talent agency for taking pro-Palestine stand

The Mexican actress Melissa Barrera, a rising star in Hollywood, has also been cut out of the next installment of ‘Scream’ after stating on social media that ‘Gaza is being treated like a big concentration camp’

Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon, in Paris in February 2019Michel Euler (AP)
María Porcel

Hollywood is also feeling the impact of the war between Israel and Hamas, which has already been going on for almost 50 days. Although the city of stars has its own problems to solve after two strikes that have left the industry shaking and with $6 billion in losses, some of its most prominent representatives have been raising their voices for one side or the other. In a country where Israel has been explicitly supported from the beginning, the more than 14,000 deaths in Gaza are weighing more every day, and more public figures and institutions are beginning to speak out in favor of the Palestinian people, although their words are not usually well received. This is the case of Susan Sarandon, whose talent agency has decided to stop representing her after she criticized Israel’s actions in the Strip.

The 77-year-old actress, known for her decades-old activism, has been present at various protests in favor of the Palestinian people. On November 17, she participated in a pro-Palestinian rally in New York, in which he stated: “There are a lot of people afraid of being Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence.” Sarandon has also been sharing for weeks, almost on a daily basis, a series of pro-Palestinian messages on her X account. She has also retweeted messages in favor of stopping the war by the United Nations or Doctors Without Borders.

Her words did not go down well her agency, United Talent Agency (UTA), which has represented her since 2014 (before that, for a quarter of a century, she was a client of ICM Partners, another prestigious company). UTA also represents other renowned actors, directors, models, authors, influencers, athletes and singers, from Rosalía to Gisele Bündchen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Malala Yousafzai, Michael J. Fox, Greta Gerwig, Bad Bunny, Karol G, Jennifer Coolidge, Tilda Swinton and more. A spokesperson confirmed to several American media outlets specializing in entertainment that Sarandon has indeed ceased to be their client.

Last February, months before the conflict began, Sarandon was one of the signatories — along with other names from the world of culture such as Viggo Mortensen, Marianne Faithful, Peter Gabriel and Ken Loach — of a letter of support to the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, after her decision to break diplomatic relations with Israel and end its twinning agreement with the city of Tel Aviv. “We salute the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, for her brave decision to suspend institutional ties with Israel, including the twinning agreement with Tel Aviv, until Palestinians can live in freedom, without military occupation and apartheid,” the message read. “Barcelona’s decision should inspire institutions worldwide to end their own involvement in sustaining regimes of oppression.”

Melissa Barrera en la premiere de Scream VI
Melissa Barrera at the world premiere of 'Scream VI' in New York, March 2023.Evan Agostini (AP)

Sarandon, winner of an Oscar for the 1995 movie Dead Man Walking and nominated four other times, is not the only actress who has been targeted for supporting Palestine. Melissa Barrera, a 33-year-old Mexican actress who has participated in a handful of projects in the United States, including several installments of the Scream saga, is another. On Tuesday, shortly after Sarandon’s departure from UTA was announced, it was learned that Barrera has been fired from Scream VII, which has not yet started filming. Barrera had been posting messages for days about the demonstrations and the enormous difficulties of living and surviving in Gaza in recent weeks. “Right now Gaza is being treated like a big concentration camp... This is genocidal ethnic cleansing,” she wrote on Instagram, where she has 1.1 million followers. Barrera later tweeted: “At the end of the day, I would rather be excluded because of who I include than to be included because of who I exclude.”

Barrera is one of the signatories of a letter in which hundreds of artists have demanded that President Joe Biden facilitate “an end to the bombing of Gaza, and the safe release of hostages,” and which is also signed by Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, America Ferrera, Alfonso Cuarón, Jessica Chastain, Alyssa Milano, Kirsten Dunst, Rosario Dawson, Kristen Stewart, Sandra Oh, Milla Jovovich, Lupita Nyong’o, Annie Lennox, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Cynthia Nixon, among many others.

Hollywood stars have been relatively cautious about the conflict and, after months of silence imposed by the strike, they are limiting themselves to tirelessly promoting their films, now that awards season is at hand. However, other less public layers of the industry, such as talent agencies, are more divided, taking positions and making layoffs, fearful that their public image could be affected. Maha Dakhil, a well-known agent at Creative Artists Agency, one of the most powerful agencies in the sector, recently posted remarks on her Instagram account: “What’s more heartbreaking than witnessing genocide? Witnessing the denial that genocide is happening.” Shortly after, she was taken off the agency’s board although she kept her job as a representative. According to Variety, citing close sources, her main client came to the CAA offices to show his support: Tom Cruise.

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