Audra McDonald, Sheryl Lee Ralph & More SAG-AFTRA Members Urge Congress to End Hair Discrimination & Pass CROWN Act

The statement of support was recommended by the SAG-AFTRA Hair and Makeup Equity Work Group.

By: Oct. 19, 2022
Audra McDonald, Sheryl Lee Ralph & More SAG-AFTRA Members Urge Congress to End Hair Discrimination & Pass CROWN Act

SAG-AFTRA, the 160,000-member entertainment and media union has sent to the U.S. Senate a strongly-worded statement urging Congress to prevent unfair treatment of people of color based on their hair style or texture in public education and workplaces by immediately passing the CROWN Act (H.R. 2116/S. 888).

Among the members who signed the statement of support for the CROWN Act are Kerry Washington, Zoë Kravitz, Rosario Dawson, Don Cheadle, Niecy Nash-Betts and dozens of other performers. In the letter, members assert, "Discrimination based on hair style or texture is a destructive practice that has alienated and caused irreparable harm to Black Americans."

The CROWN Act prohibits discrimination based on a person's hair texture for all federally- assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment. It is an essential step to making all workplaces safe for people of color, and it is consistent with SAG-AFTRA's efforts to advance equity and inclusion in the media and entertainment industry.

"The CROWN Act is a huge step in ending discrimination based on hair in public education and work spaces," said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. "People should feel free to style their hair how they feel most comfortable without the threat of prejudice and unequal treatment. The CROWN Act will protect and positively impact the lives of many Americans at school and work, but there is still more work to be done to ensure private institutions adopt the protections the CROWN Act provides. We should celebrate all hair styles NOT discriminate!"

SAG-AFTRA has been working on a comprehensive, strategic plan to advance hair and makeup equity in the workplace. Through prioritizing this issue in contract negotiations, raising awareness, leveraging industry partnerships and supporting the federal CROWN Act legislation for applicability in every state, SAG-AFTRA is working to end discriminatory and unsafe practices in the workplace for our members once and for all.

The statement of support was recommended by the SAG-AFTRA Hair and Makeup Equity Work Group, which is composed of member leaders and activists who are working actors. The group is chaired by Jason George and includes Yvette Nicole Brown, Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Michelle Hurd, Ezra Knight, Linda Powell and Sheryl Lee Ralph.

"When you work in an industry where you can be hired - or not hired - largely on how you look, you become acutely aware of how damaging it can be to discriminate against someone based on something as extraneous as how they wear their hair," said George. "We've made strides in our own industry, but we have our union backing us up and not everyone has that. Until our nation's leaders say, in no uncertain terms, that it is not acceptable to discriminate against someone based on their hair, private employers and institutions will continue to skirt the issue with ease. The CROWN Act sets a new standard of equity that makes it harder to justify harmful and outdated practices."

Introduced by Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., the CROWN Act (S. 888), is companion legislation to H.R. 2116, introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman, D-N.J., in the House, which passed the House in March 2022 with a 235 to 189 vote, and would only need Senate passage to head to the President for his signature.

The Senate has yet to take action.

The full letter and list of signatories is below. Those wishing to add their voice to support the CROWN Act can do so HERE.


The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the world's largest and most powerful entertainment union, calls on the United States Senate to pass S.188, the CROWN Act, to end race-based hair discrimination at the federal level.

Discrimination based on hair style or texture is a destructive practice that has alienated and caused irreparable harm to Black Americans.

Implicit biases toward Black workers and students based on their hair texture, style and color are still the norm in federal offices and public education. Black students are disciplined at a rate four times higher than any other racial or ethnic group, and research has found that 70% of all suspension disciplines are discretionary, many stemming from dress code violations that include hairstyles. In addition, the biased lens that makes curly hair or locs unprofessional - despite the fact it has nothing to do with job performance - far too often holds Black people back from promotions and job opportunities.

It is time that federal agencies and institutions take additional steps to ensure the fair and equal treatment of all citizens they employ or who rely on their services, and this essential legislation puts all employers on notice that a landscape in which Americans can be discriminated against based on their natural physical appearance has never been just and is no longer tenable.

We the undersigned SAG-AFTRA members, and SAG-AFTRA, wholeheartedly endorse the CROWN Act to put an end to race-based hair discrimination in the workplace once and for all. We urge you to take action and pass this legislation.

Thank you.

Fran Drescher
SAG-AFTRA President

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director


Laz Alonso
Tichina Arnold
Malcolm Barrett
Angela Bassett
Shari Belafonte
Skyh Alvester Black
Marsha Stephanie Blake
Kim Brockington
Yvette Nicole Brown
L. Scott Caldwell
Don Cheadle
Karen Chilton
Holly Chou
Carrie Coon
Justin Cornwell
Tiffany Yvonne Cox
Eisa Davis
William Stanford Davis
Rosario Dawson
Ariana DeBose
Teniece Divya Johnson
Aunjanue Ellis
Ms. Lisa M. Fischer
Jason George
Tiffany Haddish
Iyana Halley
Taraji P. Henson
Nichelle Hines
Jennifer Hudson
Michelle Hurd
Dominique Jackson
Anne-Marie Johnson
Leslie Jones
Ezra Knight
Zoë Kravitz
Marvin LaViolette
Téa Leoni
Nia Long
Andrea Lyman
Eva Marcille
Marsai Martin
Audra McDonald
S. Epatha Merkerson
Mike Merrill
Simone Missick
Michelle Monaghan
Kenya Moore
Tia Mowry
Niecy Nash-Betts
Ruth Negga
Debra Nelson
Yvonne Orji
Anna Paquin
Janice Pendarvis
Alison Pill
Danielle Pinnock
Linda Powell
Sheryl Lee Ralph
Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Wendy Robinson
Yolonda Ross
Vanessa Rubio
Jeri Ryan
Yara Shahidi
Alexandra Shipp
Gabourey Sidibe
Leslie Silva
KJ Smith
Connie Stevens
Kim Sykes
Robin Thede
Gina Torres
Towanda Underdue
Courtney B. Vance
Lisa Ann Walter
Samantha Marie Ware
Martha Wash
Kerry Washington
Sharon Washington
Sigourney Weaver
Al-Teron Williams
John Wooten
Constance Wu

SAG-AFTRA National Board

Fran Drescher, President
Joely Fisher, Secretary-Treasurer
Ben Whitehair, Executive Vice President
Michelle Hurd, Vice President, Los Angeles
Ezra Knight, Vice President, New York
Michele Proude, Vice President, Mid-Sized Locals
Suzanne Burkhead, Vice President, Small Locals
William Charlton, Vice President, Actors/Performers
Janice Pendarvis, Vice President, Recording Artists/Singers

Don Ahles
Sean Astin
Shari Belafonte
Randal Berger
Nitasha Bhambree
Mitchell Bobrow
Rodger Brand
Yvette Nicole Brown
Josh Charles
Henry Ian Cusick
Jessica Day
Nancy Duerr
Abby Dylan
Debbie Evans
Frances Fisher
Nancy Flanagan
Ilyssa Fradin
Hector Garcia
Brad Garrett
Michael Gaston
Margie Ghigo
Traci Godfrey
Stephen McKinley Henderson
David Jolliffe
Phoebe Jonas
Michael Kraycik
Elaine LeGaro
Jodi Long
Andrea Lyman
Mary McDonald-Lewis
Mel MacKaron
Camryn Manheim
Joseph Melendez
Matthew Modine
Bill Mootos
Dan Navarro
Debra Nelson
Rosie O'Donnell
Ron Ostrow
Jay Potter
Linda Powell
Sheryl Lee Ralph
Anthony Rapp
Patricia Richardson
Courtney Rioux
Rob Schneider
Jeff Spurgeon
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Peter Tocco
Towanda Underdue
Lisa Ann Walter
Pamela Weaver
Olga Wilhelmine
Liz Zazzi