Gender-pay has been a major issue in Hollywood over the past few years. Whilst we seem to be making progress, there are always surprise stories popping up every so often. Most recently came from the Netflix TV show The Crown, when it was reported that Claire Foy (the lead) was getting paid less than Matt Smith (the support). How is it that in 2018, Hollywood can still be behind and make gender-pay an issue?
There are many celebrities leading the way forward for gender-equality. Whether it is with gender-pay or equality within filmmaking, there are many things that stars are doing. Look back at the Oscars 2018, when Frances McDormand used her Best Actress speech to push forward female talent, ending her speech with Inclusion Rider (a term that if used in a contract means that the film must have equality for race and gender for everyone working on it). Once spoken about, many actors such as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon opted to use the term in their contracts from now on.
As well as that, many actors and actresses stepped forward to help push equal gender-pay to Hollywood. Actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain started pushing for more money to match their co-stars, whilst actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch refuse to do a film where their female co-stars don’t get as much.
This is not an issue singled out for film stars – this happens in TV as well. Whilst The Crown has already been mentioned, another major shows that tried to get away with paying less to their female stars include The Big Bang Theory (where the male stars gave away a portion of their pay to let the females get equal), and NCIS (where actress Cote de Pablo was refused the same amount of pay as her scene partner was getting, leading her to quit the show).
It may seem like a simple solution: pay male and female stars the same. However, it isn’t as simple as that. Deciding a price doesn’t just come down to gender. It comes down to multiple factors.
- Star power: This is possibly the biggest one. Someone could be in a small role in a film, but if they are a huge celebrity they might get paid more money. Even if the two stars are the main roles, if someone is a bigger celebrity, you expect them to get more pay. One big example of this right now is Jurassic World 2, a film in centre of the gender-pay situation. As it sits, Chris Pratt is getting $10 million, whilst his co-star Bryce Dallas Howard is only getting $8 million. This many not seem fair on paper, but at the end of the day star power comes into play. With a blockbuster of this size, sometimes what draws an audience is the name attached. Chris Pratt is one of the biggest names in Hollywood, due to his roles of Andy Dwyer (Parks and Recreation) and Star-Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy) and he is more likely to bring more money into the film than Bryce will be.
- Agencies and pushing: When someone is just starting to get into the film industry, they will most likely take the first offer that they receive. When they get into the industry fully, actors and actresses will start to understand the language of money. They need agencies that will push for them, and make them seem desirable to the project. Sometimes, a celebrity earns more money simply because they push a little harder. This is unfair, but every business is like this and mastering the art of talking money is vital.
- The role: For most cases, the people who play a similar role should earn the same money. There was a case where Jessica Chastain complained about being payed a lot less than what Matt Damon made in The Martian. However, surely you would look at the roles for each actor, and what draw they brought to the box office. Whilst I can see why Chastain might be mad, it seems pretty reasonable that Damon would be earning a lot more money. A better comparison would be to look at her pay for The Martian against someone like Sebastian Stan or Donald Glover, who had an equal role as her.