The Oscar-winning “The Help” actress addressed equal pay at the Sundance Film Festival
Women are helping women get paid equally in Hollywood.
When actress Octavia Spencer voiced that she was getting underpaid compared to her white female colleagues on an upcoming comedy, her fellow co-star Jessica Chastain made sure she got the pay raise she was entitled to.
Spencer shared the important conversation she had with her former “The Help” star about equal pay at a recent “Women Breaking Barriers” panel at Sundance Film Festival.
“Here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women,” she told Chastain on the phone. “So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table.”
Spencer, 47, made her film debut in the 1996 drama “A Time to Kill” and has proven herself to be one of Hollywood’s most achieved actresses. Her breakthrough film role came in 2011 when she portrayed the powerful role of Minny Jackson in “The Help,” alongside Chastain. That year, she swept the award shows winning the Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Critics Choice Award for best supporting actress. This year, Spencer is nominated for the Academy Award in the same category for her supporting role as a janitor in the fantasy film “The Shape of Water.” She’s the only African American actress to earn two consecutive Academy Award nominations.
Still, even with her immense talent, Spencer says she was being underpaid compared to her female colleagues.
“I told her [Chastain] my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of color,” Spencer said, holding back tears: “I love that woman because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk.
“She said, ‘Octavia we’re gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. We’re gonna be favored nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing.’ Fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for,” she said.
There’s a reported $40 million pay gap between the highest paid male actor and female actress, according to data from Forbes most recent World’s Highest Paid Actors List. What’s more, the 2016 list of the 10 highest paid actors included no African American actresses. In general, white woman make around 80 cents for every dollar a male makes, while black women make around 64 cents to the dollar.
At the end of the story, Spencer made light of the gender disparity issue women in all industries are fighting to fix:
“Now, I wanna go to what the men are making!”
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