November 5, 2019

Nonprofit Launches Entertainment Industry Council to Advise Foundation
Including J. J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Donna Langley, Lachlan Murdoch,
Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes, Steven Spielberg and More

LOS ANGELES (November 5, 2019) – The SAG-AFTRA Foundation announced today that Courtney B. Vance has been appointed to the role of President. Current President, JoBeth Williams, will retire after 10 years in the position. The transition will take place at the organization’s 4th Annual Patron of the Artists Awards honoring Jennifer Aniston, Greg Berlanti, Ava DuVernay, and Mark Ruffalo on Thursday, November 7th at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles.

Courtney B. Vance is an Emmy® and Tony® award-winning actor who garnered numerous nominations, including SAG and Golden Globe® nominations, for his critically acclaimed performance as Johnnie Cochran in the FX series The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. He most recently appeared alongside Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges in Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions’ Ben is Back¸ directed by Peter Hedges. Vance stars in the upcoming HBO drama horror series Lovecraft Country. He wrapped production on Uncorked, a Netflix film inspired by the family of Prentice Penny, Insecure EP and showrunner, with Niecy Nash and Mamoudou Athie. Also, he recently joined the cast of the Universal/Will Packer romantic drama, The Photograph, with Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield, directed by Stella Meghie.

“We are proud to announce Courtney B. Vance is the new President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. He embodies our values of education and dedicated service to artists, and he is a remarkable role model,” said JoBeth Williams. “As for me, it has been a profound honor to serve as President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for the past decade. I look back at the great strides we have made over the past 10 years with a fondness and deep pride in what we have accomplished. Though it is bittersweet to step back from this role, I have every faith that Courtney will continue the Foundation’s legacy and do the organization proud.”

Vance will begin his tenure with the launch of the Foundation’s first ever Entertainment Industry Council (EIC), which will advise the Foundation on its work to support performers in all stages of their career. The Council will function in partnership with the Foundation’s Actors Council, whose members serve as important advisors and supporters; however, the EIC is specifically composed of industry leaders with exceptional expertise and vision regarding the entertainment and media landscape. Inaugural Entertainment Industry Council members include J. J. Abrams, Jon Feltheimer, Randy Freer, Jim Giannopoulos, Alan Horn, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Donna Langley, Chris Meledandri, Lachlan Murdoch, Ryan Murphy, David Nevins, Richard Plepler, Shonda Rhimes, Tom Rothman, Jennifer Salke, Ann Sarnoff, Steven Spielberg, and Dana Walden.

“The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is a vital organization and it is a privilege to shine a light on it in my new role as President. My parents raised us to be helpers and just as there are no small roles, there are no small jobs. This is an opportunity to help people and educate artists who are the backbone of our industry,” said Vance. “JoBeth set a high bar and I look forward to building upon her legacy with our new Entertainment Industry Council and our Actors’ Council. Together, we will raise increased funding for our assistance and scholarship funds, and continue creating more robust, free programs for our artists. I can’t wait to get started.”

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is widely recognized for its work to prepare performers for success. The Foundation provides free audition preparation classes with prominent casting professionals, voiceover studios with one-on-one time with engineers, on-camera audition taping, a comprehensive video archive of actors discussing the craft, and panels on the business side of acting. These classes allow actors to get hands-on, practical training on everything from the auditioning process to running your own business and keeping current with industry trends. The introduction of the Entertainment Industry Council will advise the Foundation on its programming, ensuring that it remains unparalleled in its program offerings.

Under Williams’ helm, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation formed an Actors’ Council to champion the work and raise awareness for the Foundation. Members include Annette Bening, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain, George Clooney, Bryan Cranston, Penélope Cruz, Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Robert Downey Jr., Jane Fonda, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Tony Goldwyn, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Allison Janney, Eva Longoria, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matthew McConaughey, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo and Kerry Washington.

In addition, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation significantly expanded its award-winning children’s literacy program Storyline Online®, a free educational resource and digital library for kids with over 575 million views worldwide. Storyline Online features 55 videos of acclaimed actors reading children’s books aloud alongside animated illustrations to help inspire a love of reading in kids, and received an Emmy® nomination in 2018.

About Courtney B. Vance

From studying history at Harvard, and acting at Yale Drama School, to making history in Hollywood, Courtney B. Vance has carefully cultivated an exceptional career that showcases his passion, talent, and intellect. His penchant for successfully finding the dignity and honor in each character exploration has made this Tony and Emmy award-winning actor a powerful presence from the theatrical boards to the silver screen.

Courtney was awarded the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series; the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series; and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special for his stunning portrayal of Johnnie Cochran in the FX series The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. He also earned SAG and Golden Globe nominations for his critically acclaimed performance. 

Most recently, Courtney co-starred in Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions’ Ben is Back, directed by Peter Hedges, alongside Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges.  He will also appear as a pivotal character in HBO’s upcoming drama horror series Lovecraft Country and wrapped production on the Netflix film, Uncorked, with Niecy Nash and Mamoudou Athie. The film is a father-son story inspired by the family of Prentice Penny, Insecure EP and showrunner. Also, Courtney has been announced as joining the cast of the Universal/Will Packer romantic drama, The Photograph, with Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield, directed by Stella Meghie.

Other credits include his Tony Award winning performance in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guyand noteworthy films such as The Hunt for Red October, The Preacher’s Wife, Space Cowboys,and Terminator Genisys.

Courtney and his wife, actress Angela Bassett co-wrote the book, FRIENDS: A LOVE STORY.  The inspirational book is their personal love story and chronicles their story about healthy relationships.  A native of Detroit, Michigan, he is a proud Ambassador for the Boys and Girls Clubs of AmericaCurrently he resides in Southern California with his wife and their twins, Bronwyn Golden and Slater Josiah.

About JoBeth Williams

JoBeth Williams is an Emmy, Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated actress, director and producer with over 140 credits in film, television, live action shorts and behind the camera. Her iconic turns in The Big Chill, Poltergeist, Switch, American Dreamer, The Day After, Baby M, and Fraiser – as well as her Oscar-nominated directing in the short On Hope — have made Williams one of the industry’s most celebrated actors.

On stage, Williams has appeared in numerous New York theatrical productions, including Last Dance by Marsha Norman, Moonchildren, Ladyhouse Blues, A Couple of White Chicks, John Guare’s Gardenia, and The Vagina Monologues.  Regionally, she has appeared in lead roles in Antony and Cleopatra at the Old Globe, Idiot’s Delight opposite Stacy Keach at the Kennedy Center, Threepenny Opera in Williamstown, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the McCarter theatre, Uncle Vanya, Tartuffe, School for Wives, and two seasons at Trinity Repertory Company. In Los Angeles, Williams has appeared on stage at the Geffen Playhouse in Jane Anderson’s The Quality of Life, for which she received a Backstage West Garland Award, at the Taper in John Robin Baitz’s play Other Desert Cities, at Pasadena Playhouse in The Night is a Child, and at the Odyssey in The Fall to Earth.

For ten years, Williams served as the president of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, a charity that provides vital programs for both working actors and actors in times of need, as well as children’s literacy programs that reach over 10 million children every month worldwide.  Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she is a graduate of Brown University.  She is married to director John Pasquin, and is the proud mother of two sons.

About the SAG-AFTRA Foundation

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides vital assistance and free educational programming to SAG-AFTRA artists and families while serving the public at large through its Emmy®-nominated children’s literacy program Storyline Online®. The Foundation relies solely on support from gifts, grants and sponsorships to maintain its free programs. For more information, visit

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Media Contacts

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