The pie’s the limit for pizza-fueled Hollywood strikers


Thomasina Gross, a SAG-AFTRA strike captain, prepares pizza for sharing on the Warner Bros. Studio picket line on September 22. Photo by Megan Jamerson/KCRW.

Nine cheese and nine pepperoni. That’s Jess Morse’s standing pizza order at the Costco in Burbank. Some curious shoppers ask, “Where’s the party?” She replies, “On the Hollywood picket lines.”

Morse is behind the Pizza Strike Fund, a grassroots effort to feed Hollywood writers and actors. She’s raised $27,077, and with the help of volunteers, delivered 2,504 pizzas to every picket line. The San Fernando Valley pickets get Coscto pizza, and the Hollywood pickets get Domino’s. The team hasn’t missed a day since the writers’ strike began in May. While the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is no longer picketing because of a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), Morse plans to continue to feed people for as long as she can at SAG-AFTRA picket sites.

More: Why WGA’s AMPTP deal is only the first step to bringing Hollywood back

In the early days of the strike, Morse was looking for a way to show solidarity and meet people in the industry. She is a pre-WGA writer, an unofficial title signaling she’s not in the guild but aspires to become a working Hollywood writer. However, social interactions are triggers for her anxiety disorders and autism. She decided that showing up with food would give her a mission and purpose, quieting her fears.

“It's been so great because I immediately met so many cool people who I know I would have been too nervous to talk to if I just showed up by myself to picket,” says Morse.

Jess Morse delivers pizzas to the Warner Bro. picket line on September 22. She’s the organizer behind a grassroots effort to deliver pizzas to all Hollywood picket lines every day of the strike. Photo by Megan Jamerson/KCRW. 

After spending $300 on pizza and snacks, she turned to her 30 followers on X (formerly Twitter) and asked if anyone would be up for helping her buy more of these pies. She worried the solicitation would look sketchy. A group she knew called Pre-WGA Strike Support offered to boost her tweet, and two days later the fund had $1,400. Five months later, she hasn’t run out of money.

Morse runs the operation when she’s not working her day job as a production manager for the South Korean comic website Tapas. She keeps records of all the Venmo and Paypal donations, and posts about the process on her X account. Every dollar goes toward pizza, says Morse, unless a donor explicitly sends money for expenses like gas. When the cash is spent, donors receive a notification. She also works with a rotating list of volunteers to deliver the food.

Pizza Strike Fund volunteer and pre-WGA writer Mendel Bain met Jess Morse at the Burbank Costco to pick up pizzas for the Universal picket line on September 22. Photo by Megan Jamerson/KCRW.

Picketers have come to depend on the pizza delivery, says Dan Ast, a volunteer and another pre-WGA writer. The work stoppage has been a tremendous financial strain on many writers, actors, and below-the-line workers. “For some people, this is the only hot lunch they get some days,” says Ast. 

More: ‘We’re all dying’: Hollywood crews are treading water without work

The pizza magically arrives on picket lines every day at approximately 11 a.m., says Thomasina Gross, a SAG strike captain at Warner Bros. Studios. “It reminds us that people are rooting for us and trying to make sure we sustain ourselves,” says Gross.  “And it's so lovely that they think about us.” 

On a recent delivery to the picket outside of Disney studios, Jess Morse received cheers when she walked up with the pizza. While it’s not clear when Hollywood will be opening back up, she is hopeful that someone she fed will remember her when it comes time to hire writers assistants or script coordinators. Nearly five months and thousands of pizzas later, she’s proven she knows how to get lunch for a writers’ room.

“My therapist says it's okay to do good things, even if you get something out of it,” says Morse.