Current WGA East President, Michael Winship has decided not to seek re-election in the guild’s upcoming election. He will be succeeded by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen. The latter is running unopposed for the position in the guild, which is currently on strike against companies that are members of the AMPTP, Deadline is reporting.
Takeuchi Cullen will become WGA East’s third female president and the first person of color to hold the post when she begins her duties next month. She currently serves as VP of the guild’s Film/TV/Streaming sector.
Takeuchi Cullen’s bio on the guild’s website notes that before the current writers strike began, she was developing several drama series as part of an overall deal with Universal TV. She has also developed drama pilots for Apple, Netflix, ABC, NBC, CBS, A&E and Warner Bros. Her pilot The Ordained was produced by CBS.
After graduating from the WGAW Showrunner Training Program, Takeuchi Cullen served as co-executive producer on NBC’s The Endgame. She was also a writer and consulting producer on Law & Order: SVU.
The writer’s guild bio also notes that she, as an Asian-American, “works to represent marginalized writers as co-chair of the Committee for Inclusion and Equity and founder of the Salon network of affinity groups. She also started and runs Diverse Writers of the East, databases of underrepresented WGA East and pre-WGA writers.”
In 2020, Takeuchi Cullen received the Richard B. Jablow Award for her service to the guild. She previously worked as a journalist, notably serving as a foreign correspondent and staff writer for Time magazine, and has also published two books.
Takeuchi Cullen posted a tweet this morning about her upcoming positing, writing in part: “I will lead @WGAEast in our epic battle for fair pay. As vp, I stand with our brilliant Negotiating Committee and officers from @WGAWest and East as we face down the AMPTP. I march alongside our heroic captains and members. WE WILL NOT GIVE UP. WE WILL NOT GIVE IN.”
Winship released a statement today, in which he shared that his decision not to run again “was made right from the start two years ago when I was asked to return to the presidency. Despite having already served five terms as president, from 2007-2017, I agreed to run again in 2021 to help work out issues the guild was facing in terms of constitutional revisions and other membership concerns, but I did say then that it only would be for two years.”
WGA East’s current president added in his statement “That the last weeks of this current term would come in the midst of our strike is unfortunate, but I am not disappearing – for one thing, I remain in office until late September – and will continue to be involved to the best of my ability even after my term ends.
“What’s more, we have an extraordinary team of elected leadership plus dedicated staff and members in place who have been working for all of us 24/7, doing their best to make this strike a resounding success that will protect writers, their work and careers for years to come. Having also led this guild through our last strike, in 2007-08, I know how difficult all of this is but am fully confident that we will win again,” Winship continued.
“This is not a choice that was made lightly, but I have been a member of this union for more than four decades and active in our work for nearly all of them. Now the time has come for me to pass responsibility to the new generation of Guild members and the elected council,” WGA East’s current president added.
Two other WGA East candidates are also running unopposed. Chris Kyle will be re-elected secretary-treasurer. Erica Saleh, a member of the guild’s Council, will be the next VP of Film/TV/Streaming – the post now held by Cullen.
In the upcoming election, 12 candidates will be campaigning for six Council seats that represent the Film/TV/Streaming sector. Those candidates include David Angelo, Ian Olympio, Sara Montana, Sofia Alvarez, Zhubin Parang, Hallie Haglund, Nick Bernardone and incumbents Sasha Stewart, Liz Hynes, Benjamin Rosenblum, Greg Iwinski and Josh Gondelman.
There are also five candidates running for three Council seats representing the Online Media sector. They include Sie Morley, Samantha Smylie, Levi Winslow, David Lumb and incumbent Caitlin Cruz.
Voting will become available for WGA East members online or by mail, at 12:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, September 6. Voting will take place in person on September 21 at 4:30 p.m. at the guild’s office, with voting closing at 5 p.m. The candidates who are elected to positions will serve a two-year term, beginning on Friday, September 22.