Equal pay is a hotly discussed topic, and for great reason. No matter what the job, men get paid more than women — something that doesn’t stop in an industry like Hollywood.
The latest star to speak up about this continuing issue? Actress Jessica Chastain, who negotiates for equal pay in a genius way: by simply refusing to take a fraction of what her male co-stars get paid.
“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,” the Oscar-nominated star said in an interview with Variety for its “Power of Women: New York” issue.
“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,” Chastain continues.
“I don’t care about how much I get paid; I’m in an industry where we’re overcompensated for the work we do,” she adds. “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.”
As if she wasn’t enough of a role model, the Zero Dark Thirty star humbly credits much of her outlook to Amy Pascal, who was co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment during its 2014 hack.
“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,” Chastain recalls.
“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.”
“Movies wouldn’t want me to do my deal until they cast the male actor. They would wait and see what they had left over [in the budget], even if they’d come to me first,” Chastain adds. “Now, if someone comes to me and has an offer but wants to wait, I’m like, ‘Goodbye.’ If you want me in your film, do a favored-nation clause. Don’t determine my worth based on what’s left over.”
She mentions something called a “favored-nation clause” which basically translates to “don’t pay me a penny less than whatever he is making.”
We could NOT be clapping harder. Chastain has more than proven her acting chops in movies like Zero Dark Thirty, The Help, Interstellar, The Martian, and her brand-new film The Zookeeper’s Wife — not to mention her impressive stage and television credits.
Between Chastain, Rooney Mara, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmy Rossum, Amanda Seyfried and more, we’re so glad women who occupy high platforms are continuing to speak out about the wage gap not only in Hollywood but everywhere. Every light shed on this issue is a step in a fairer direction for all of us.