Isiah Whitlock Jr. is ready to give back. Last week, via Twitter, he announced his plans to auction off a tweet that features his character Clay Davis’ trademark “Sheeeeeeeeeit” catchphrase from The Wire. And though he isn’t the first actor or public figure to jump into the NFT game, Whitlock Jr.’s decision to hold the auction came from a desire to give back to his community.
A survey conducted by the Associated Press earlier this month revealed that, over the course of the pandemic, 76% of actors reported a loss of income and 79% reported that their mental health deteriorated and they experienced an increase in anxiety or depression. Whitlock Jr. was all too familiar with these stats and he wanted a more tangible way to provide support. “We had started an NFT and then I was looking at the tweet that Jack Dorsey had auctioned off and I thought it would be a good idea to auction off a tweet and raise money for the Actors Fund,” he tells The A.V. Club.
The Actors Fund—which was founded in 1882— is an organization that strives to support working actors by providing services that include: emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health care, senior care, and much more. “I would say eighty to ninety percent of the actors in the country have had some dealings with the Actors Fund at some point,” Whitlock Jr. explains. “The acting community was so decimated [during the height of the pandemic] so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do something.” And, after a year that featured tons of career success and highlights for Whitlock Jr., he figured this was a great way to pay it forward.
“[Last year] was a tough time and I don’t want to say, I didn’t hit any rough patches, but I didn’t hit the rough patches some of my colleagues [did],” he says before getting real about his own past experiences, “I remember how the Actors Fund helped me when I first came to New York and I always wanted to do something to pay them back or acknowledge that they were very instrumental. Because when I first came to New York—and a lot of actors will understand this— [it’s like] you’re at the edge of a cliff and the Actors Fund pulls you back. They pull you back from the edge and help you. Sometimes it could be a week, it could be a month sometimes. That’s all you need to get yourself going again.”
Whitlock Jr. will continue taking bids on the tweet until Friday, at noon E.T. And, for those people who are still a bit skeptical about entering the intimidating world of cryptocurrency, you can still donate the old-fashioned way.