Jessica Chastain Pens Powerful Essay Urging Actresses to Fight for Equal Pay
Jessica Chastain refuses to take jobs if she’s getting paid less than her male co-stars.
The 40-year-old Zero Dark Thirty actress made the comments in a powerful essay in which she pleaded with her fellow female stars to negotiate fair and equal pay.
“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 wrote in the op-ed for Variety.
She also referenced the controversy surrounding the leaked Sony Pictures emails which revealed Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid significantly less than their male co-stars Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper for the 2013 movie American Hustle. After the pay scandal, Chastain went to a talk involving Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, and was left “p**sed off” by the movie exec’s comments.
“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,” she wrote.
“At first, I was really p**sed 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. You have a scale to measure it by, because the big agencies know what the male actors are getting paid. So when they’re negotiating, they should feel empowered. They can come forward and say, ‘This is 2017. We’re not doing this anymore.'”
She candidly revealed how she had turned down a huge role because of the lack of equal pay.
“For me, it wasn’t about the money; it was an old-fashioned problem of the wage gap. I turned it down, and they didn’t come back,” Chastain wrote.
And the actress said she is happy to have a reputation for demanding fair pay in Hollywood.
“I remember afterward I was like, ‘What did I do? Maybe it was a mistake.’ But it wasn’t, because everyone in the studio system heard what I did. So what you’re doing is creating a reputation: Don’t bring Jessica something where she’s not being fairly compensated compared to the male actor,” she explained.
“Even though I lost that film, I’ve created a boundary. I drew a line in the sand. The power of “no” means you’re educating people in how to treat you.”