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Three Actresses Who Called Out the Wage Gap in Hollywood

Sara Elliot September 27, 2017 October 6th, 2017

We’ve all heard it, “women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar”. It is well known that most countries still have a significant wage gap between men and women. But it’s more complicated than that. According to the AAUW, white women make 79% of white men’s earnings. Meanwhile, asian women make 87%, black women make 63%, and latina women are only at 54%.

It gets even more complex when it comes to transgender people. A 2006 study showed that trans women earn 5% less than their cisgender counterparts, while trans men earn about 14.8% less.

This is a reality for women all over the world. But what about those in Hollywood? Here are three actresses who recently called out the wage gap in their field:

#1 Jennifer Lawrence

As of 2015, Jennifer Lawrence was the world’s highest paid actress, earning $52 million a year. This is impressive, but not so much when compared to the highest paid actor, Robert Downey Jr., who made $80 million.

However, what led her to speak out was not this, but the Sony email hack. This event revealed some sad truths about her earnings on “American Hustle”. While her male costars and the director of the film all took home 9% of the back-end profits for the movie, Lawrence and Amy Adams only got 7%.

In an essay for Lenny Letter, she spoke about not fighting for her rightful wage. Lawrence argued that she did not push harder because she did not want to seem difficult or spoiled. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard.”


#2 Robin Wright

These days, the 51-year old actress is well-known for her work on “House of Cards”. She plays Claire, wife and partner in crime of politician Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey).

“I was told that I was getting equal pay and I believed them, and I found out recently that it’s not true.” Wright argued that on the show, her character and her husband are equal as far as their power, their union and the plot. Yet, her co-star makes $6.5 million for the show, while she gets paid $5.5 million.

So in a classic Claire Underwood move, she threatened to go public about her pay inequality. This apparently made negotiations for her equal pay much easier.


#3 Emmy Rossum

Emmy Rossum’s case is perhaps the most successful of the three. During the first seven seasons of her show “Shameless”, Rossum was paid significantly less than her costar William H. Macy, though they had equal billing on the show.

Pay equity was on the table for the eigth season, but the actress held out on renewing her contract. Instead, she asked for a higher salary to make up for the first seven seasons where she was paid less. Macy was an enthusiastic supporter of this move.

Though there is no concrete information on how that was settled, Rossum stayed on the show.


We still have a long way to go, but these women set an example for calling out injustice and demanding appropriate wages for our work.