October 16, 2014
AFTRA mourns the passing of national board member and former interim Screen Actors Guild President Sumi Sevilla Haru, who died October 16, 2014 at age 75.
“It is with great sadness that our SAG-AFTRA family says goodbye to Sumi Haru,” said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard. “Sumi notably represented SAG-AFTRA and its predecessor unions for decades on our local and national boards, and as Screen Actors Guild recording secretary and interim president.
Sumi served our members through her lifelong dedication to actors, the labor movement, and civil rights and equal employment. She did that with conviction, passion and grace. Our deepest condolences go out to her loved ones. We will miss her.”
Haru joined SAG in 1968 and AFTRA in 1972 and served as a national board member for both organizations for multiple terms since 1974. She served as interim president of Screen Actors Guild in 1995, the first and only woman of color to hold the position (image to the left is of Barry Gordon passing the gavel to Sumi Haru in 1995).
Haru also served as a delegate at both AFTRA and SAG-AFTRA conventions. In 2013, she was elected for a two-year term as a member of the first elected national board of the merged SAG-Sumi Sevilla Haru, SAG-AFTRA Leader 1939-2014
AFTRA. In 1995, she became the first Asian Pacific American to serve as a national vice president of the AFL-CIO, a position she filled for six years. Haru was a co-founder and national chair of SAG's Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee and Western national chair of AFTRA’s Equal Employment Opportunities Committee.
Haru originated the EEOC Career Day and helped develop SAG's affirmative action conferences. She was a negotiator of "American Scene" language and affirmative action clauses for SAG’s national TV/Theatrical and Commercials contracts and for AFTRA’s national Network Television and Commercials agreements. She chaired SAG’s Legislative Committee and served as a legislative advocate on the national, state and local levels.
She was a trustee and former president of the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund, and a former board member of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. In 2009, Haru was honored with SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award, which was bestowed upon recipients for distinguished service to SAG’s Hollywood Division. In 2012, she published Iron Lotus: Memoirs of Sumi Sevilla Haru. She was born in Orange, New Jersey on Aug. 25, 1939.