All within the beginning monologue, no less.
Actress Kerry Washington recently filled in as host on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," and within just seconds of delivering the show’s opening monologue, changed the lives of two fellow actors.
“Acting is one of those jobs that seems very glamorous,” the “Scandal” star began. “Sometimes it is, but in reality it can also be very tough.”
She went on to share part of her own acting journey. “When I first started out I had to supplement my income by being a substitute teacher, yoga instructor, a hostess at a restaurant…so it meant a lot to me the first time that I qualified for that sweet Screen Actor’s Guild health insurance.”
The Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) is the primary labor union for professional actors. Its main function is to establish fair payment contracts and provide benefits (like health insurance) to TV and movie performers—as well as radio personalities, voiceover artists, dancers and stunt performers … almost anyone who works in the front-facing side of the entertainment industry.
In August 2020, SAG raised its premiums and eligibility for health insurance. The change went into effect during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many productions had shut down filming. With stricter eligibility requirements and less opportunities to work, many actors—at least 10% of SAG’s 33,000 members, according to The Hollywood Reporter—lost their former health plan.
Losing health insurance is never a good thing. But losing it during a global pandemic is devastating. That’s what makes Washington’s act of kindness such a huge deal.
Calling two “very deserving and talented individuals” to the stage, Washington explained that the two (seemingly randomly picked) actors only needed to say one line, any line at all, and they would get to keep their coverage.
Daniel William Jordan, who went the extra mile by dressing up like a mailman, was a little over $400 short of qualifying for insurance. Madeline McCuskey, on the other hand, only needed $40. As SAG's normal day rate for one episode of television is a little over $1,000, both actors would become eligible for saying literally anything on the show.
People in the YouTube comments section were floored to find out that coverage could be lost so easily
“It's insane that someone can be $40 short of being able to qualify for healthcare,” one person noted.
Another actor added, “I’ve been in that position myself, falling $95 short of coverage last quarter. Kudos to the show and these actors!”
Both Jordan and McCuskey were showered with colorful confetti, and exited the stage knowing they’d have one less thing to worry about.
You can watch the full video below.