Sumi Sevilla Haru, pioneer Fil-Am actress, unionist, 1939-2014
LOS ANGELES — Filipino American actress and labor leader Sumi Sevilla Haru, 75, who fought for better roles for Asian American performers and was a prominent civil rights activist, died on October 16.
No cause of death was given but she was known to have suffered from emphysema.
Sumi Haru was born Mildred Sevilla on August 25, 1939 in Orange, New Jersey. She was known for her work in “Krakatoa: East of Java” (1969), “Fast Friends” (1979) and “MASH” (1970), “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Hill Street Blues.”
Haru became active in trade union movement, serving on the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) board of directors for nearly 40 years.
In 1995 she was named interim SAG president. She also served for many years as the guild’s recording secretary, the guild’s third highest elected office. At the time of her death she was a member of the SAG-AFTRA national board.
Haru 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, according to Deadline Hollywood.
Haru became a national vice president of the AFL-CIO in 1995. Her six-year term as a national vice president marked the first time an Asian American has served on the AFL-CIO’s executive council.
Haru was honored with SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award in 2009 for distinguished service to SAG’s Hollywood Division. She published “Iron Lotus: Memoirs of Sumi Sevilla Haru” in 2012.
“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.”
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