“The Crown” joins stars like Emma Stone, Mark Wahlberg and Octavia Spencer, to end the gender pay gap between leads
The queen earned less than the prince — and the kingdom isn’t having it.
The producers of Netflix’s hit drama “The Crown” revealed last week that actress Claire Foy — who portrayed Queen Elizabeth II for the first two seasons — was paid less than her male co-star Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip.
Netflix officials pinned the disparity on Smith’s greater degree of experience coming into the show (he had become famous for playing the titular Doctor on “Doctor Who.”) “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen,” added producer Suzanne Mackie, as the show readies to recast the two leads for the upcoming season.
Supporters of pay parity and #TimesUp say that’s not enough. So now they’ve published a petition on Care2, an online activist community, “asking Netflix and Matt Smith [to] make up for this sexist pay gap by donating the difference in their paychecks to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund…” As of Tuesday, the petition had gained pledges from almost 26,000 supporters, out of its 30,000 goal.
“While it may be easy for some to dismiss gender pay disparity for already high-paid actors like Claire Foy, I believe that publicly addressing high-profile cases of sexism will also help create gender opportunities for women — in all careers,” wrote the founder of the petition, a user whose handle is “Rebecca G.”
As the wage gap continues to effect a number of industries, more women — and men — are speaking out. Earlier this month, Susan Sarandon revealed in an interview with BBC Radio 5 that Paul Newman gave her part of his salary when they worked together on the 1998 crime drama “Twilight.”
“Emma Stone came forward and said she got equal pay because her male stars insisted upon it and gave up something of theirs,” Sarandon said, referencing a 2017 interview Stone gave. “That happened to me with Paul Newman at one point when I did a film with him ages ago. He stepped forward and said, ‘Well, I’ll give you part of mine.’”
More recently, Mark Wahlberg donated $1.5 million to the Time’s Up legal defense fund after the large pay gap between him and his “All the Money in the World” costar Michelle Williams was brought to light. And last year, Stone said that her male co-stars have taken salary cuts in the past so that she could be compensated fairly.
Sarandon’s story sheds light on the current conversation about the gender wage gap facing multiple industries outside of the entertainment business, and the men who are stepping up to make a change. In Canada, male doctors in Quebec signed a petition refusing the hundreds of millions of dollars they received in raises last month and instead are insisting that the money should go to funding more nurse and other health care professionals. More than 700 physicians, general practitioners, specialists, residents and medical students have signed the petition that’s been up since February, so far.
Pay disparity has also plagued women of color, who still make less than their white female colleagues. When actress Octavia Spencer voiced that she was getting underpaid compared to her fellow co-star Jessica Chastain, Chastain made sure she got the pay raise she was entitled to.
“Here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women,” Spencer recalled at a Sundance Film Festival event of a phone conversation she had with Chastain. “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 with breakthrough film roles like her 2011 portrayal 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 and this year, Spencer was nominated for the Academy Award in the same category for her supporting role in “The Shape of Water.”
“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.
This story was originally published on Jan. 25th, 2018, and has since been updated.
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