Lisa Takeuchi Cullen Elected President Of WGA East; Running Unopposed, She Succeeds Michael Winship

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen Elected President Of WGA East; Running Unopposed, She Succeeds Michael Winship

September 22, 2023

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, running unopposed, has been elected president of the WGA East. Cullen, who until now had been VP of the guild’s Film/TV/Streaming sector, succeeds Michael Winship, who chose not to seek re-election.

In the WGA East’s other officer elections, two other candidates also ran unopposed. Chris Kyle was re-elected secretary-treasurer, and Erica Saleh, a member of the guild’s Council, will be the next VP of Film/TV/Streaming – the post previously held by Cullen.

Votes were cast by 13.3% of total eligible voters (7,166) for president and secretary-treasurer.

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In the guild’s other races, six Council members representing the Film/TV/Streaming sector also elected: Sofia Alvarez, incumbent Josh Gondelman, incumbent Liz Hynes, incumbent Greg Iwinski, Sarah Montana, and incumbent Sasha Stewart.  

Three candidates were also elected to the Council representing the Online Media sector: incumbent Caitlin Cruz, Sie Morley, and Samantha Smylie.

In Film/TV/Streaming, 4,183 votes were cast, representing 19.1% of eligible voters. In Online Media, votes were cast by 7.5% of eligible voters (2,012). In Broadcast/Cable/Streaming News, votes were cast by 8.03% of eligible voters (971). 

Cullen, who is Japanese-American, will be the third woman and the first person of color to lead the guild. When she takes office Friday, it will mark the first time the presidents of the WGA East, WGA West, SAG-AFTRA, Directors Guild and Actors’ Equity are women.

“I am honored to become the next President of the Writers Guild of America East,” Cullen said in a statement. “Even when we negotiate a fair deal with the Hollywood studios — and it is a when, not an if — I know the fight is not over. The fight continues for all of our members, TV and screenwriters as well as journalists and podcasters, to achieve compensation commensurate to the value of our important work. The fight continues for all workers to earn a life of dignity. The fight continues for all labor to put human rights over corporate profits.

“As the first person of color and third woman to lead our 69-year-old union, I will continue my career-long push for more equity and opportunities among all storytellers,” she added. “That is, after all, what we are. Our stories matter. Our work matters. And I will fight like hell to make sure no one tells us otherwise.

Cullen, who has served on the guild’s council since 2016, co-chairs the WGAE Committee for Inclusion and Equity, founded the WGA East Women’s Salon and co-founded the Asian-American Salon. In 2020, she received the guild’s Richard B. Jablow Award in recognition of her service to the guild.

Prior to the WGA’s strike, which is in its 143rd day, Cullen was developing several drama series as part of an overall deal with Universal TV. She has developed drama pilots for Apple, Netflix, ABC, NBC, CBS, A&E and Warner Bros., and her pilot The Ordained was produced by CBS. She also served as co-executive producer on NBC’s The Endgame and was a consulting producer on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU. She’s also the author of two books and was a staff writer and foreign correspondent for Time magazine.

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