Can Hollywood Solve Its Gender Pay Gap Problem?


Can Hollywood Solve Its Gender Pay Gap Problem?

In recent years, a few actresses have come forward to talk about their experiences with the gender pay gap in Hollywood. Income inequality between men and women has been going on for decades. According to a study by the US Census Bureau, women earn 83 cents for every dollar men earn. As much as women are underpaid in all professions, Hollywood has one of the most egregious cases.

Salary differences

Recent research from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that actresses in Hollywood earn an average of $1 million less per movie than their male counterparts when working on the same project.

There have been cases of staggering underpayment of actresses. For her role in ‘The Martian,’ Jessica Chastain was reportedly paid around $1.75 million while her co-star Matt Damon reportedly earned around $25 million.

Mark Wahlberg faced strong backlash when it was reported that he was paid eight times more than Michelle Williams for their work on ‘All the Money in the World’. Those numbers only skyrocketed when it was further revealed that he had asked to be paid $1.5 million for reshoots in the wake of the Kevin Spacey scandal, while Williams was reportedly paid less. of $1,000. The backlash became so severe that Wahlberg ended up giving away the money he had earned from the retakes.

Bryce Dallas Howard recently opened up about the pay gap between her and Chris Pratt for their work on the Jurassic World franchise. According to media reports, Howard was paid more than two million dollars less than her male counterpart Pratt.

Neve Campbell recently made headlines when she announced that she would not be appearing in Scream 6. She openly stated that the reason she made this decision was that she felt the offer made n wasn’t equal to the value she had brought to the franchise in the past 25 years. In her interview with People magazine, she said she felt it was high time for her, as a woman in the film industry, to stand up for her worth. She called the gender pay gap in Hollywood unfair and sexist.

Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith Gray on Grey’s Anatomy, is one of the highest-paid actresses in a prime-time drama. She, however, did not achieve this feat easily. Her 2018 interview with Variety shocked many when she revealed she nearly quit the hit medical drama due to the pay gap between her and Patrick Dempsey.

According to her, Dempsey was paid almost double what she earned. She spoke of the inner conflict she went through each time they refused her request for equal compensation. She added that this experience taught her to negotiate her salary and demand her worth.

She also participated in a roundtable with Gabrielle Union and Gina Rodriguez and she didn’t mince words on this issue. On the other hand, Rodriguez and Union opened up about their struggles as women of color negotiating fair pay in Hollywood. Union spoke about the reality of the pressure that comes with demanding a fair wage. She also opened up about how undervalued she felt on set: “I won’t feel good on set if I feel like I’m undervalued and my money doesn’t match my level. contribution.”

Negotiations and contracts

Negotiating contracts is a difficult thing to do in Hollywood due to the lack of transparency and secret deals made by corporate executives. Many things are considered when negotiating contracts in the film industry. Experience of actors, success of previous series/shows and other mitigating factors.

In some cases, these women do not even know that they are underpaid. Pompeo said he only learned of the pay gap when renegotiating the actors’ contract in Season 3.

In some cases, the actresses do not even receive the money from the profits of their projects. Such was the case for Diane Keaton who, unlike her co-star Jack Nicholson, never received any money for her work in “Something’s Gotta Give.”

Bryce Dallas Howard said that upon learning that she was paid much less than Chris Pratt, there was nothing she could do. The deal was done and she was to do three movies for the Jurassic Park franchise. The only things she could negotiate were things that hadn’t been covered in the contract, like theme park rides and video games.

The overall effects of these wage disparities between men and women

In 2018, Forbes named Scarlett Johansson and George Clooney the highest paid female and male actors respectively. Johansson earned $40.5 million while Clooney earned $239 million that year. This is a clear example of how these wage disparities affect wealth accumulation and reduce women’s earning capacity over time. It is difficult for them to make higher quotes for their future projects and to be able to demand fair compensation.

It also leaves these actresses feeling underappreciated for their hard work. Given that women work as many hours as their male counterparts, should they be paid the same for the value they bring to the project? Some will say yes.

What is done?

As more female actors come out to speak publicly about these issues, upcoming young actresses are learning what to do and ask for in their negotiations. These talks force the people behind these executives’ decisions to step up and give actresses what they deserve.

The male co-stars are also happily joining the fight, and some are stepping up to take pay cuts. Actors such as Chris Pratt support their female counterparts in their negotiation talks.

Emma Stone has also spoken openly about her experience negotiating equal pay with her male co-stars. She said that throughout her career, her male co-stars have had to take a pay cut in order to be on par. She thanked them for taking the pay cuts saying it helped change her life. She thinks that’s part of the reason she was named the world’s highest-paid actress in 2017.

As Hollywood works to address this issue, more artists will likely speak up, leading to a much fairer pay distribution. The fact that male actors are taking a firm stance of solidarity with their female counterparts seems to indicate that this may well change in the future.


Do you think actresses in Hollywood should be paid the same as their male counterparts? Or are the wage differences fair? Let us know in the comments below!


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