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Michelle Williams Advocates for Equal Pay in Powerful Emmys Speech, Earns Standing Ovation

Williams' pay disparity on "All the Money in the World" made national headlines, so she used her time on the Emmys stage to call for better Hollywood standards.

Michelle Williams accepts the award for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie for "Fosse/Verdon" at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles71st Primetime Emmy Awards - Show, Los Angeles, USA - 22 Sep 2019

Michelle Williams

Phil McCarten/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

When Michelle Williams won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited TV Series or Movie for “Fosse/Verdon,” she used her time at the podium to champion equal pay in the industry. Williams was at the center of national headlines a couple years ago for the pay disparity between her and Mark Wahlberg on reshoots for their Ridley Scott-directed drama “All the Money in the World.” Wahlberg made a reported $1.5 million for reshoots on the movie, while Williams worked for the SAG minimum of $80 per day. Wahlberg ended up donating his salary from the reshoots to Time’s Up.

“I see this as an acknowledgement of what is possible when a woman is trusted and feels safe enough to voice her needs and respected enough to be heard,” Williams said while accepting the Emmy. “My bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon. Thank you so much to FX and Fox 21 studios for supporting me and paying me equally, because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. Where do they put that value? They put it into their work.”

Williams continued, “The next time a woman, and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterparts, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment — and not in spite of it.”

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Williams’ speech earned a massive standing ovation from the Emmys crowd. The actress was nominated against against Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”), Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”), Joey King (“The Act”), and both Aunjanue Ellis and Niecy Nash from “When They See Us.” This was Williams’ first-ever Emmy Award and her first nomination. She was also up for Outstanding Limited Series as an executive producer on “Fosse/Verdon,” but that series lost to HBO’s “Chernobyl.”

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