Fall / Winter 2021

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Page 70 of 151 | Fall/Winter 2021 | SAG-AFTRA 67 O ver the course of her career, longtime SAG-AFTRA member Fran Drescher has earned a level of success many other performers in the industry dream of. But on the evening of Sept. 2, the legendary actor, producer, director, showrunner and activist earned herself a new title: SAG-AFTRA president. She continues the work of leaders from SAG-AFTRA's legacy unions, as well as that of her predecessor, Gabrielle Carteris. And while the entertainment and media industry continues to evolve, she has already marked her presidency to be one of tenacity, forward-thinking and even a bit of chutzpah. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Drescher's start began with the Miss New York Teenager pageant in 1973. Although she placed as first runner-up, it gave her the push to take what would eventually become a successful career into her own hands. She paid for her own headshots and began to cold-call talent agents. It took her little time to get signed and land roles in commercials while attending cosmetology classes. Sometime later, she began to transition into theatrical projects, and landed appearances in films such as Saturday Night Fever (1977) and This Is Spinal Tap (1984), as well as on '80s television sitcoms Who's the Boss? and ALF . But she would become most known for her own television show, The Nanny, the iconic TV sitcom starring Drescher as a cosmetics saleswoman-turned-nanny for a widowed Broadway producer. While many may know of the story of her chance encounter with former CBS president Jeff Sagansky during a transatlantic flight in 1991, the inspiration for "The Flashy Girl From Flushing" actually came days later, following an afternoon spent with the daughter of a good friend. In a 2017 interview with talk show Studio 10, she recalled calling her then-husband and longtime creative partner Peter Marc Jacobson to pitch the idea. "I said, 'What do you think of a spin on The Sound of Music, only instead of Julie Andrews, I come to the door?' He only thought about it for a minute, and then says, 'That's the one we're going to pitch to CBS.'" Drescher and Jacobson would go on to sell The Nanny to CBS, as well as lead the show's creative development. But in the two years prior to the show's premiere in 1993, Drescher faced the obstacle of staying true to the original version of the main character Fran Fine. Not only did that entail keeping Drescher's own thick, high-pitched New York accent, but defending her decision to portray the character as Jewish, when the network suggested the character be Italian. Said Drescher in a recent interview on The Drew Barrymore Show (see sidebar), "Even though I knew it was my big break, we [declined]. I don't like to have regret, and I thought, 'If I go along with this … and it doesn't fly, I'm going to be kicking myself.' "I made it a cardinal rule to go with my gut and try to convince others why CBS/PHOTOFEST From left, Charles Shaughnessy, Fran Drescher, Daniel Davis, Nicholle Tom, Lauren Lane, Madeline Zima and Benjamin Salisbury in The Nanny (1993–1999).

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