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Sheryl Lee Ralph Uses Rihanna Lyrics to Demand Pay at SAG Strike Rally

Sheryl Lee Ralph fired up the crowd at a SAG-AFTRA strike rally in Los Angeles with a defiant speech featuring lyrics from another SAG member: Rihanna.

The Abbott Elementary star, 66, demanded on Wednesday, September 13, that the union-backed actors be properly compensated as she quoted — and paraphrased — RiRi’s 2015 triple platinum hit, “Bitch Better Have My Money.”

“You know why we’re here. You know what we deserve,” Ralph said. “And in the words of one of our SAG members, pay us what you owe us.” (She slightly changed Rihanna’s original lyrics, “Pay me what you awe me.”)

Continuing from the song, Ralph commented, “Don’t act like you forgot. I call the shots, shots, shots.”

“Bitch Better Have My Money” was inspired by a comical scene from the 1988 film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka starring Keenen Ivory Wayans and Antonio Vargas. In the role of a pimp named FlyGuy, Fargas angrily said, “Bitch better have my money,” and 27 years later, he appeared with Rihanna, 35, in the music video.

Ralph and Rihanna, meanwhile, share Caribbean roots. Ralph’s father is Jamaican and she spent part of her childhood growing up in the West Indies. The nine-time Grammy Award winner, for her part, was born in Barbados.

Sharing part of her speech via Instagram on Wednesday, Ralph tagged Rihanna and teased in the caption, “What can I say…the spirit of @badgalriri got to me.”

At the rally, Ralph spoke directly to her fellow actors, adding, “Everybody out there, we are the heartbeat of the entertainment industry. You might try to recreate us with AI, but nothing’s gonna be as fabulous as the human beings we are.”

Ralph won her first Emmy in 2022, earning the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series trophy for her role as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary. Ralph also received a Golden Globe for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for her performance on the sitcom.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) went on strike in July after failing to agree on a new contract for improved wages and working conditions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Actors are also seeking improved health and pension benefits and hoping to create safeguards that would protect them from having their likeness replicated by artificial intelligence.

“We are the victims here,” Fran Drescher, president of the actors union, said when the strike began. “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us… It is disgusting; shame on them. You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not expect the contract to change, too.”

In addition to SAG-AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is also on strike and has been since May.

Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celeb News

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