Burn Notice Exec Producer Alfredo Barrios, Jr. Turns Fire in His Belly into Political Activism
(April 2, 2012)
WGAW PAC board member Alfredo Barrios, Jr. with actor Jeffrey Donovan on the set of Burn Notice.
Five years ago, when the Guild was preparing for a walkout, Burn Notice writer/executive producer Alfredo Barrios, Jr. was asked to become a strike captain on his show. “I didn’t know what was required or, quite frankly, what the Guild did other than provide health insurance and residual checks,” concedes Barrios. “But I became very involved in the strike. To me it was an aggressive step that needed to be taken given what we were facing and the stakes involved.”
When the strike was over Barrios returned to work, but in 2011, he also continued his activism, serving on the WGA Negotiating Committee.“Ultimately I realized that in order to have successful negotiations it’s the time between negotiations when we have to do the most work,” says Barrios, who worked as a litigator for the Los Angeles law firm O’Melveny & Myers for five years before trading in his bar card for a Guild card.
With that in mind Barrios joined WGAW President Chris Keyser, Political Director John Vezina and Research and Public Policy Director Ellen Stutzman on a two-day trip to Washington, D.C, last year where they met with Senators, Congressmen and FCC officials to advocate on behalf of writers. “Right now we’re facing a dangerous consolidation of corporate power in our industry,” says Barrios. “There are basically five companies that own all the networks and studios for which we all work. They use the legislative process to increase their power, and to our detriment.”
Now, as a member of the WGAW PAC board, Barrios juggles his television show with his political activism, convinced that a WGAW presence on the ground in Washington is essential. “There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction,” says Barrios, “because in the absence of face-to-face interaction what’s at stake for writers becomes an abstraction. When decision makers and elected officials see someone in front of them with knowledge, experience and passion for an issue, it has an effect. When we met with officials in Washington they saw people who were fighting for the survival of their profession and providing insights that a memo can’t communicate.”
“I really found the Senators, Congressmen and the FCC to be incredibly receptive to our advocacy,” he continues. “Unfortunately, in our political process out of sight means out of mind. And the best way to get within sight is to be active in a PAC. Without that we’re limited in how we can get our message out.”
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