Actress Jessica Chastain discussed equal pay, diversity, and sexism in the entertainment industry with the Guardian, telling the paper in a wide-ranging and open-hearted interview that she was so “tired of this.” Bringing up Kesha’s sexual assault case against Dr. Luke, she praised the high-profile women who had come out in support of the singer: “How great is it, when there’s no fear? This myth that women don’t get along well – who does that serve? It doesn’t serve women.” She mentioned the way the press would write about her being in a “fight” with Jennifer Lawrence when they were both up for the same Oscar, making it seem like women do not support each other. “In fact, if you see a movie like Brooklyn, with Saoirse Ronan, and what a great job she did – the more incredible performances there are out there, the more parts for women there are going to be, because audiences are going to want to see it. So why would it benefit anyone to deny accolades for others?” She told the British newspaper. “It’s this long fairytale that women don’t get along. But we’re changing that.”
On a brighter note and despite their infamous lack of racial diversity, Chastain saw the 2016 Oscars as a positive moment — because four out seven nominated films had a woman in a leading role, unlike the year before, where none of the best picture nominees had a female protagonist. The 39-year old actress also said she had taken a new approach to getting equal pay in Hollywood after the Sony hack revealed that female stars were paid less than their male counterparts on American Hustle. The incident got company director Amy Pascal fired, and Pascal told Tina Brown at Women In The World San Francisco that women get paid less because they don’t demand more. Chastain heard that message loud and clear: “In the beginning of your career, you’re scared to death to speak out, because you’re just so grateful to be working. Amy Pascal said actresses need to stop being grateful. So I’m testing that out! I think people know, if they’re going to hire me I’m not going to just be grateful. There have been situations where I have lost movies because I’ve said, this is not a fair deal, and I’ve walked away.”
Chastain recalled a famous actress (whose name she can’t give away, nominated for “many, many Oscars”) who was paid $250,000 on a movie where her male co-star got $4,000,000. But the issue, she stresses, is not just the pay — but rather gender parity in general. “People still think, oh, why do women go on about the wage gap? Well, it’s across every industry. The only industries where women get paid more than men are industries where women’s value lies in their body: prostitution, pornography, modelling. Those are the only industries where there’s a wage gap the other way. Because the male gaze says, this is where you’re valued. Your sex.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.