WGAW and AFM Local 47 member Paula Yoo. Photo courtesy of WGA/Writers on the Line © 2023 Writers Guild of America. All rights reserved.

Written by Writers Guild of America (WGA) Staff
Originally published June 26, 2023 in Writers on the Line

As of October 9, 2023, it’s PENCILS UP for Yoo and members of the Writers Guild of America as our 148-day strike with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) ended. Stay tuned for my next TV and film development news soon!

Until then, here’s a story about my picket line adventures as a member of both the WGA and the AFM Local 47 (American Federation of Musicians) unions from the WGA “Writers on the Line” newsletter.
#WGAStrong #IStandWithTheWGA

NOTE: This “Writers on the Line” essay by WGA staff members was originally published on June 26, 2023 in the Writers Guild of America (WGA) newsletter, “Writers on the Line.” WGA link:

On a Thursday morning, as the writers of the showRUNNERS running group prepared to set off from Sony on their weekly picketing jog across the westside studios, violinist Paula Yoo seized her moment, playing them on their way with the theme to Chariots of Fire.

Yoo knows her movie and TV themes. She also knows music. A member of both WGAW and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 47, when she’s not marching, she can be found on the picket lines often wearing both her royal blue WGA shirt and her teal AFM shirt, brandishing her violin, playing away.

“A lot of musicians show up with their instruments, and so I’ve been doing that,” said Yoo. “I figure I can kill two birds with one stone. I can get some practice time.”

This double dose of solidarity serves both of her unions: While WGA is currently in negotiations with the AMPTP for its 2023 MBA, Local 47 is slated to begin its own contract talks with the same employers in the fall.

“Musicians, like writers, are facing very similar concerns, especially with AI,” Yoo said. “It’s a big concern for both of us. People often believe that if you are a writer or a musician, you’re working your dream job, and you should be grateful. But what we do is labor. We spend years, if not decades, honing our craft.”

Yoo has put in her decades honing multiple crafts. A former journalist who worked for newspapers in Seattle and Detroit, she moved to Los Angeles to write for People magazine in 1995 and then began transitioning over to film and television.
During her 21 years as a member of WGAW, she has staffed 11 shows, sold three pilots, and adapted a feature. She is also a published author. A violinist since childhood, she plays weddings between staffing gigs (“I have one coming up in a couple of weeks,” she said).

But even after achieving success, Yoo has encountered many of the roadblocks within the industry that the WGA is striking against. As a Korean American, Yoo says that many of her writer friends from diverse backgrounds have experienced repeating staff levels an inordinate number of times.

“I was forced to repeat staff writer three times, and this was before mini-rooms,” she said. “I’m glad the WGA is now really looking into this. Residuals are a big concern as well because a lot of times you spend months if not years between jobs, sometimes because you’re kind of beholden to your contract you can’t seek out new work until you find out if your show is canceled or not. Now it’s gotten to the point where people are waiting years because their show hasn’t even debuted yet to be canceled for them to seek out new work.”

Picket lines are nothing new to Yoo. She walked the lines during the 2007-08 strike where, she recalls, the diversity on the lines was less evident than now. Going back further, as a member of the Detroit Newspaper Guild, which was part of the Teamsters, she went on strike in 1995. Yoo played her violin on those picket lines as well.

“The Detroit newspaper strike taught me the value of the Teamsters,” she said. “We were striking for fair wages and protection and safe working environments and all of that. I’ve been a loyal and very pro-union member since then.”
On the 2023 lines, Yoo sometimes does mini jam sessions with other Local 47 musicians. When going it solo, she’ll break out themes from popular TV shows including those she has written for like The West Wing and the Pretty Little Liars sequel, The Perfectionists. “If I was a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof is another favorite.
“I’ve even played The Love Boat theme,” she said. “I can go old school.”
© 2023 Writers Guild of America. All rights reserved.