How Fran Drescher went from ‘The Nanny’ to SAG-AFTRA president

How Fran Drescher went from ‘The Nanny’ to SAG-AFTRA president

Born in Queens, Drescher rose to fame in the semi-autobiographical show “The Nanny” and later became known for her activism.
In what has been a historic summer for entertainment, SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) officially went on strike in July, joining the WGA (the Writers Guild of America) on the picket line in a movement that has ground the industry to a halt.

And among the many voices advocating for workers, one very recognizable voice has gotten attention in the media: SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher.

The day before the strike was announced on July 17, Drescher stopped by TODAY to share the union’s stance. “We’re not going to settle. It’s a very different industry from the way the old contract was reflecting. With streaming and digital, it’s really important that it become restructured to complement what it is now,” she said.

When the strike was formally announced, the actor and advocate’s speech went viral as she called out the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) as being a “greedy entity.” NBCUniversal, the parent company of, is also part of the alliance.

“We stand in solidarity in unprecedented unity. Our union and our sister unions and the unions around the world are standing by us, as well as other labor unions. Because at some point, the jig is up. You cannot keep being dwindled and marginalized, disrespected and dishonored. The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. This is a moment of history that is a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family,” she said.

And as the fiery speech has been making the rounds online, it’s also gotten the Royal Internet Treatment (remixes, parodies, and more).

“Absolutely fired up after that speech. Thank you to our @sagaftra president Fran Drescher for standing up for us. We deserve a fair contract. Inspired by my WGA friends and peers who have stood strong before us and I’ll see you on the picket lines,” tweeted comedian Alyssa Limperis.

During an Aug. 1 appearance on TODAY, Drescher said SAG-AFTRA is prepared to strike for the next six months, at least. “We have financially prepared ourselves for the next six months. And we’re really in it to win it,” she said.

What is Fran Drescher’s acting history?
Born in Flushing, Queens in 1957, Fran Drescher’s first onscreen role was a small part in the John Travolta film “Saturday Night Fever.”

She’s best known for co-creating and starring in the ’90s sitcom “The Nanny.” Drescher played a character named Fran Fine, a somewhat fictionalized version of herself. She starts out as a Jewish beautician from Queens, then becomes the nanny of three wealthy children in the Upper East Side.

The show put Fran’s iconic Queens accent, eccentric fashion taste, and unapologetically jewish witticism against the backdrop of wealth, and posh celebrity.

Drescher has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies since then, such as “Hotel Transylvania,” “Entourage,” “Broad City” and more, as well as started in another sitcom “Happily Divorced” which aired for two seasons.

Her latest project is “VC Andrews: Dawn.”
How did she become an activist?
Drescher has been an outspoken presence in Hollywood. She published two books: A memoir called “Enter Whining” in 1995, about how she went from a humble upbringing in Queens to “The Nanny” star, and “Cancer Schmancer” in 2002, about her experience with uterine cancer.

Drescher also founded the non-profit organization “Cancer Schmancer” in 2007.

In 2008, Drescher was appointed a U.S. public diplomacy envoy for women’s health, traveling the world to talk about issues like cancer prevention.

Drescher also campaigned for same sex marriage before it was legalized nationwide. Her first, Peter Marc Jacobson, with whom she created “The Nanny,” came out as gay after they divorced in 1999.

“I’ve always felt like I could be protective of those who are marginalized. I know how to argue on behalf of someone,” she told Interview Magazine.

Drescher described her stance as “anti-capitalist” in a 2017 interview with Vulture, saying “the global systemic problem is actually big-business greed.”

She became SAG-AFTRA president in 2021 after an election called “melodramatic” by LA Mag.

Her ‘Nanny’ character has union roots
Many fans quickly drew comparisons between Drescher’s speech and her pro-worker plot line in an episode of “The Nanny”.

In Season Two, Fran Fine made waves for refusing to cross a picket line to attend her bosses high profile broadway production.

“My mother has three rules,” Fran said. “Never make contact with a public toilet. Never, ever, ever cross a picket line. What was the third one? Oh, yeah, never wear musk oil to the zoo.”

Drescher’s character in “The Beautician and the Beast,” a ’90s rom-com, also mentions unionizing.

It’s evident that her character’s traits extended to real life, with that same energy being brought recently in the media

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