Hollywood’s gender pay gap became a hot topic following November 2014’s hacking of Sony emails, which revealed that the studio paid actresses less than their male co-stars. The following February, at the “Women in the World” conference in San Francisco, former Sony Pictures Entertainment cochair Amy Pascal (one of the most powerful women in Hollywood) addressed the controversy, explaining that actresses get paid less because they simply don’t ask for more. Since then, actresses like Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain have advocated for gender equality in the industry. Now, in the April 18 “Power of Woman” issue of Variety Magazine, Chastain explained what she’s doing to fight the pay gap.
“I remember watching Amy Pascal — it was after the Sony hack, and she was giving a talk somewhere. She said part of the reason women don’t get paid equal to men is they don’t ask for more; actresses need to stop being so grateful. That really hit me. At first, I was really pissed off. And then I thought, ‘She’s touching on something here.’ Women need to step forward and demand they’re fairly compensated for their work,” Chastain told the magazine.
The actress, who in October 2015 revealed she was paid “less than a quarter” of her reported salary for “The Martian,” told the magazine that she has learned the lesson. “I’m not taking jobs anymore where I’m getting paid a quarter of what the male co-star is being paid. I’m not allowing that in my life,” she said. “What I do now, when I’m taking on a film, I always ask about the fairness of the pay. I ask what they’re offering me in comparison to the guy. I don’t care about how much I get paid; I’m in an industry where we’re overcompensated for the work we do. But I don’t want to be on a set where I’m doing the same work as someone else and they’re getting five times what I’m getting.”
The “Zookeeper’s Wife” star sent a powerful message to women in general. “Women need to step forward and demand they’re fairly compensated for their work,” the actress said, and added, “The power of ‘no’ means you’re educating people in how to treat you.”