On December 30, 2012, actor, director, and producer Rockmond Dunbar ¾ best known for his performances in the HBO series “Soul Food,” “Prison Break,” “The Mentalist,” and “9-1-1” ¾ married actress and writer Maya Gilbert.
Gilbert, now Gilbert-Dunbar, has appeared in “Southland,” “Murphy’s Law,” and “Banshee.”
In addition to acting, Gilbert-Dunbar is also working as a screenwriter on projects like “Ordinary Joe” and “Bluff City Law.”
She and Dunbar have several other projects in development. They also share four children together, one daughter and three sons.
According to official court documents, on February 16, 2022, Rockmond Dunbar filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company and Twentieth Century Fox Television, the parent companies who own “9-1-1,” for discrimination based on his race and religion.
“For the last two years, I have not worked at all, after being fired from ‘9-1-1,’” said Dunbar.
During the COVID mandate, when individuals working on set were required to be vaccinated, Rockmond says they submitted, on time, medical and religious exemptions for the vaccination requirement, and they were both denied.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the process, my legally due process that SAG created with the producer’s union… I wasn’t given my legal due… and had to file a federal lawsuit,” said Dunbar.
“It will be televised in February when we go to court next year, so everyone can put their ideas of what happened aside. I want everyone to know the truth and you can read the court cases now on UniCourt.”
Gilbert-Dunbar followed up Dunbar’s comments by describing the family atmosphere on the set of “9-1-1,” noting that Dunbar had great relationships with his cast, producers, and the crew. But she says that, for some reason, and after five seasons, the studio heads at Disney and Fox wanted him gone.
“Rock goes to work, comes home, and takes care of his family. What really brought it home for us was when the mandate was lifted a year later, after he was fired, his boss wanted to bring him back. They had even started rewriting scripts,” said Gilbert-Dunbar. “Once again, the powers-that-be came down from the top and again said no.”
Rockmond says God spoke to him immediately, told him everything was going to be okay, that he must be here for his wife and his children, as the strong head of his household.
“The saddest part is you’re with a union that is supposed to support you, who created laws to help you, but then when you call them, when you call SAG a number of times to say, ‘Hey my employer is breaking the laws that you set up,’ and have the door slammed in my face by SAG-AFTRA, that was embarrassing as well,” said Dunbar. “That is the reason why Maya and I are running for positions within SAG this year.”
They are both currently running on an independent slate for SAG-AFTRA offices. Gilbert-Dunbar is campaigning for SAG-AFTRA National Board, local president, and national president; Dunbar is a candidate for Los Angeles Local SAG vice president, and a position with the National Board.
Gilbert-Dunbar says what happened to her husband played a part in her decision to run. From that experience, she says she has formed the opinion that there has been a great misusage of SAG dues.
“There’s too little work and too many members,” said Gilbert-Dunbar. “In SAG-AFTRA, there are 160,000 members. It’s not sustainable, and there’s not even enough work for that amount of people,” she continued.
“Then to make matters worse, about 85% don’t even qualify for pension and health. That means 85% are not even making $26,000 a year.”
Gilbert-Dunbar says her presidency would offer transparency. She says she would do a full audit of SAG-AFTRA, a multi-million-dollar non-profit.
Her running mate for Secretary Treasurer is Peter Antico, a 40-year stunt veteran who Gilbert- Dunbar calls a financial wizard. In 2021, Antico wrote and directed the documentary, “The Paradigm of Money,” which exposes corrupt policies that allow money to be transferred from the middle class to the very wealthy.
She is also advocating for the removal of SAG-AFTRA current National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. Gilbert-Dunbar argues that Crabtree-Ireland is a failure, that he has corrupted the guild, has biased views, and does not represent all members in a way a national executive director should.
Dunbar says if he is paying up to $7,000 a year in dues, and if he was not protected by the guild, he can only imagine what others are facing.
“I’m a dad of four and I’m a protector, and all I can think about is the people being shafted, the people like me who are being discriminated against, the people who are not getting what they deserve. They need protection,” said Dunbar.
Gilbert-Dunbar added to Dunbar’s thoughts by speaking on the lack of diversity and equity within SAG-AFTRA.
“There is no diversity. Just look at the strike, look at the pictures from New York to L.A.,” she said. “You will see exactly the lack of diversity and the lack of representation for Black people.”
Gilbert-Dunbar says she would be a great president not just for SAG-AFTRA’s Black members, but all its members.
“If we could vibrate on a higher level, race wouldn’t be an issue. But most people aren’t there. I understand the needs of all my locals [SAG-AFTRA members] from New York, to L.A., to Miami. We all have the same basic human needs. And, as artists, we all want the same things ¾ to do our art and make a decent living doing so,” concluded Gilbert-Dunbar.
To support the candidacies of Maya Gilbert-Dunbar and Rockmond Dunbar, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/election-fund-for-independent-candidates
Keith L. Underwood is the host of the KBLA Talk 1580 entertainment radio show, “Black In The Green Room.” A former entertainment publicist, he currently develops platforms for performers, creatives, and Hollywood execs to shine and inspire. IG: @umaworldwide.