Equal Pay For Women: 20 Actresses Who’ve Spoken Out

As ridiculous and unjust as it sounds, we still live in a world where many people believe that it’s OK for women to earn less money than men for equal jobs. However, greatly thanks to the feminist movement, women have been demanding equal pay in practically every work sphere, and Hollywood has been no exception. Here’s a list of 20 brave women who have spoken out against unequal pay and have demanded to be paid the same as their male co-stars.

Photo: Courtesy of El País

#20. Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra is most famous for her career as a supermodel, especially after having won the Miss World pageant in 2000. However, during these last years, she has also made a name of herself as an actress and film producer.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

She has fought to receive equal pay for many of her projects, though usually without success.

“It’s a scary place. You will be rejected. I was rejected many times. I cried. I was told that female actors are replaceable in films because they just stand behind a guy anyway. I’m still used to being paid — like most actresses around the world — a lot less than the boys. We’re told we’re too provocative or that being sexy is our strength“, she said in an interview.

#19. Kathy Griffin

Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin confessed that she received unequal pay throughout her career, and was told no each time she asked for a raise. As she told Variety, one of the first times she felt she was being paid way less than her male co-stars was in the 90s sitcom Suddenly Susan.

Photo: Courtesy of Variety

I guess I became aware of it on my first paid job. When I was on a sitcom in the ’90s, Suddenly Susan, I made the second-lowest salary on the cast. Judd Nelson, who I liked, made four times what I made, and he ended up getting fired. And I went on to get two Emmys, a Grammy, three television shows with my name in the title and a New York Times best-seller, she told Variety.

#18. Patricia Arquette

Patricia Arquette should not only be admired for her talent as an actress but also for her bravery, as she protested against the wage gap in Hollywood while accepting her Academy Award in 2015. Since the acting world is also patriarchal, she lost quite a few job opportunities as a result of her speech.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

It’s not just about acting, and it’s not about me as an actor. I don’t believe this is fair for anybody. I want to live in the America I believe in, that really is fair, that really has possibilities, and really does treat people of all races and all sexes equally“, the actress said.

Sure, the fact that she lost job opportunities just for speaking her mind is profoundly unjust, but on the other hand, why would she want to work for people who look down on gender equality?

#17. Clare Balding

Even though Clare Balding has taken on minor roles in a couple of BBC productions, she is mostly known for her work as a broadcast journalist. A few years ago, the BBC published a list of presenters who earned more than $150,000, and unsurprisingly, most of them were men. Together with 40 other A-list stars, Balding signed a letter to the director of the company demanding equal pay.

Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Farrah

It’s not about my salary or any of us on the list. We are all very well recompensed but I am concerned for those who have tried to challenge the system and been ignored. I don’t want women to be undervalued or for bosses to assume that they can get away with treating us as discount items“, she said in an interview.

#16. Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone is a very talented actress and you’ve probably seen her in her Oscar-nominated performance in Casino. She first became aware of the huge wage gap in Hollywood when working for the 1992 mystery-drama film Basic Instinct.

Photo: Courtesy of Radio Mitre – Cienradios

After Basic Instinct, no one wanted to pay me. I remember sitting in my kitchen with my manager and just crying and saying I’m not going to work until I get paid. I still got paid so much less than men“, she told People.

#15. Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank is one of the best actresses out there, and her two Academy Awards for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby proves it. However, just a few years ago, she was offered a role in the Netflix show Chelsea Handler that paid less than a tenth than what her male co-star would get.

Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair

Obviously, Swank rejected the offer and explained her decision in an interview.

I got offered a movie, but the male hadn’t had any kind of critical success but had been in a movie where he was ‘hot.’ And he got offered $10 million, and I got offered $500,000. So I said no, and they went and found a newcomer who did it for $50,000. So they made a savings of $450,000, probably to give the guy his bonuses“, she claimed.

#14. Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer’s career has been on the rise during the last years, and just recently she was offered $11 million for her comedy special on Netflix. As soon as she learned that comedians Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock had received more than twice for their comedy specials, she demanded Netflix a raise.

Photo: Courtesy of El País

Many fans criticized her for demanding equal pay despite the fact she had less experience than the two male comedians. However, she made things clear with the following Instagram post:

Thanks for chiming in on what you feel I deserve to be paid. I believe women deserve equal pay. However, I don’t believe I deserve equal pay to Chris and Dave. They are legends and 2 of the greatest comics of all time. I would like to say that I have been selling out arenas these last couple of years. Something a female comic has never done. I didn’t ask for the same as my friends. I did ask for more than the initial offer”.

#13. Sienna Miller

Sienna has always advocated equal pay, and in fact, she once turned down a role in an important Broadway play because she was offered a salary way lower than that of her male co-stars. She decided, however, not to mention the name of the play nor the actors.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

It was a play with just two of us on stage and I was offered less than half of what he was going to be paid. If it was two men, it wouldn’t probably happen. Sad, but I walked away“, the actress told Vogue.

#12. Melissa Rauch

You probably know Melissa Rauch for her secondary role in the all-time favorite Big Bang Theory. During the first seasons, she was paid $100.000 per episode, which was over 90% less than what the other actors earned.

Photo: Courtesy of Bolsomania

Even though she didn’t have a lead role, she still thought she should be paid more, so she demanded a raise. She was eventually granted a raise of $350.000. Even though she still earns less than half compared to her male co-stars, it was still a significant conquest. Do you know which other Big Bang Theory star demanded a raise? Slide to #10 and find out!

#11. Emmy Rossum

Actress Emmy Rossum rose to stardom after starring in the comedy-drama TV show Shameless. However, before the last season was aired, she decided to put her foot down and refuse to renew her contract until the producers agreed to pay her as much as her co-star William H. Macy.

Photo: Courtesy of Los Lunes Seriéfilos

But that’s not all! She actually demanded a higher wage than her male co-star, as a way to compensate for all the seasons she had been paid less. Eventually, the company agreed. Macy supported her when asked about the issue: “She works as hard as I do… She deserves everything“, he said.

#10. Mayim Bialik

Is there any doubt that Amy is one of the most hilarious characters in the critically acclaimed sitcom Big Bang Theory? Having this in mind, it comes as a surprise that the was getting paid $100.000 per episode, while her male co-stars were paid $1 million.

Photo: Courtesy of Net tv

At first, the 5 male stars solidarized with her demand for equal pay and decided to help her out with $100.000 of their paychecks each month. Even though the company offered her a raise, it’s still nothing compared to what her male co-stars earn.

#9. Kristen Vangsness

Kristen Vangsness launched her acting career as a guest star in the crime-drama TV show Criminal Minds but became a regular in the last seasons of the show. However, before signing on for the 13th season, she requested a raise and refused to continue in the show if her demands weren’t met.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Fortunately, justice was on her side as she eventually got paid the same as her co-star Matthew Gray Gubler. She also demanded equal payback in 2013, after realizing she was getting paid less than half the wage of her male co-stars.

We’re not even asking for equal, we’re asking for closer. It’s just… It’s parity“, the actress told TMZ.

#8. A.J. Cook

Kristen Vangsness wasn’t the only Criminal Minds star who decided to stand up for her rights and demand higher pay. Unlike Vangsness, A.J. Cook starred in the show ever since the first episodes, but she was never paid what she deserved.

Photo: Courtesy of Yahoo Canada Style

In fact, she had to fight for equal pay twice, and the second time she threatened to leave the show if her demands weren’t met. Eventually, just like her co-star Vangsness, she was granted the same pay as her male co-star, Matthew Gray Gubler.

#7. Ellen Pompeo

You probably know Ellen Pompeo from her lead role in the medical drama show Grey’s Anatomy, right? During the first seasons, the actress was paid less than her male co-star Patrick Dempsey. But why?

Photo: Courtesy of El Nuevo Día

At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house”, the actress said.

#6. Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer is one of the greatest actresses of this day, and she has protested against economic gender inequality twice. Just recently, on this year’s Sundance Film Festival panel, she said that she usually earned less than her male co-stars.

Photo: Courtesy of Britannica

Such was the case of the TV series Madam C.J., where Spencer plays the lead role. “I have to say, when I was negotiating my deal for Madam C.J., [executive producer]LeBron James had to intervene“, she told IndieWire. She has also spoken out against the wage difference between white and African-American women.

I think my goal is to make sure that all women of color get equal pay, and all women get equal pay“, the actress said.

#5. Emma Watson

Founder of HeForShe, Emma Watson is a major advocate of gender equality, and she spoke out against unequal pay in the acting world on several occasions. In fact, she even addressed the issue on a speech she gave at the UN.

Photo: Courtesy of Bellissima

I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men“, the actress said.

#4. Jennifer Lawrence

Winner of an Academy Award, Jennifer Lawrence is one of today’s most promising actresses. But one year after winner her Oscar in Silver Linings Playbook, she found out that she had earned much less money than her male co-stars in American Hustle.

Photo: Courtesy of El País

Lawrence didn’t demand higher pay at the time, and she recently reflected on the reasons why.

I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being difficult or spoiled“.

#3. Robin Wright

Even though she is most famous for her role in Forrest Gump, actress Robin Wright came back to the spotlight after taking on the lead role in the political drama show House of Cards. The actress was told she would receive the same pay than her co-star Kevin Spacey, but when she asked for a raise when she discovered she was actually being paid 16% less.

Photo: Courtesy of El País

It’s difficult to understand the reason behind the wage gap, especially considering that both actors were just as famous and both characters were equally important.

It was a perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards. I was looking at statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on that moment. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public.’ And they did.“, she said.

#2. Charlize Theron

Here’s another Academy Award winner who protested against unequal pay. Similar to the case of Hillary Swank, Charlize Theron was offered a role in the action-adventure film The Huntsman, but she learned that her male co-star Chris Hemsworth would be paid more than twice her wage.

Photo: Courtesy of La Vanguardia

Theron demanded equal pay before accepting the role, and guess what? She was able to negotiate new numbers and in the end, she received the same pay than Hemsworth. “If you’re doing the same job, you should be compensated and treated in the same way”, she said. Loud and clear.

#1. Emma Stone

Emma Stone is currently one of the greatest actresses out there, but she had to fight her way to fame to become the star she is today. In fact, she confessed that several times she asked her male co-stars to take pay cuts to help her out. Even though it was very generous of her co-stars to do that, we shouldn’t forget that resorting to this perpetuates the sexist notion that men must sacrifice their wages for women to receive what they deserve for their own right.

Photo: Courtesy of La Vanguardia

In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them. And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair. That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily — that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair,”, said Stone.

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    Hernán Tamargo

    Teacher. Political Scientist. Writer. Feminist... and much more!

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