Pay parity between men and women has been a pervasive problem in Hollywood whether you’re Kirsten Dunst or Jennifer Lawrence. And even for an international star like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who has been acting in Bollywood movies and in Hollywood for 22 years, the actress revealed that she’s never been paid equal to her male co-star. Until now.
In her SXSW keynote panel on the first day of the Film & TV festival, Chopra Jonas says that her new show “Citadel” for Amazon Prime Video marks the first time that she was paid equal to her male co-star. She stars alongside Richard Madden in the spy series produced by the Russo Brothers’ AGBO.
Chopra Jonas credited part of her parity with being at a place like Amazon Studios where Jennifer Salke, who appeared with her in the keynote conversation, is calling the shots.
“Did that happen because the very few female decision makers in Hollywood was the one that I had a contract with? I wonder if it would have been a different conversation if a women didn’t have that decision,” she said. “The ease with which Amazon Studios said, ‘That’s what you deserve. You are co-leads, and that’s fair. And you’re right. It is fair. It’s the first time I’ve heard that in 20 years.”
Chopra Jonas said back in December that when she was working in Bollywood on Hindi language films, she at times would earn just 10 percent of the salary of her male co-stars. And that wasn’t the only disparity or lack of equality she experienced. In Friday’s panel, she says she got used to doing a large number of stunts on “Citadel” in part because the Bollywood productions she used to work on rarely had body doubles available for her, while the male actors typically had three or four.
In her conversation with Salke, Chopra Jonas said that when it comes to equality, she’s talking about “equality of opportunity,” of being able to have the freedom to be able to have the same doors open for them as men, to be able to have the freedom to speak up and not feel an added pressure in a woman’s work-life balance.
“I’m laughing about this, but it’s kind of nuts. I put in the same amount of service time, I put in the same amount of investment and work, but I get paid much less,” she said. “Whether it’s something as real as your salary, whether it’s something as real as decision making, having women in front of the camera or behind the camera and in high positions. That’s when that change happens. That’s where someone says that. That’s not right. They’re co-leads, they should be paid the same. They should be treated the same. They should have the same perks. Why is there a difference if they’re playing the same parts? But those are not conversations that happen very easily. Those are not conversations that were thought of until we had representation in positions like Jen’s.”
The two touted “Citadel” as a truly “global” show, one that sees Chopra Jonas and Madden doing a lot of globetrotting, but more importantly, that ties into several other local-language spin off shows in places like India and Italy that all tie back to the main story. Chopra Jonas said it was a true example of “globalization” that as a result of a global streaming vision for trying to launch the next big action IP, that someone in Italy might try and seek out a show in Hindi or with subtitles because they love the characters and the world so much.
“I think true global diversity also matters,” she said. “Everyone also needs to be heard. It’s not just about the way you look in entertainment, diversity is about how you sound, the words that come out of your mouth, the language that you use, the country that you grew up in.”
“Citadel” launches on Amazon Prime Video on April 28.
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