15 Famous Women Who Have Spoken Out Against Pay Inequality

Gender-based pay inequality is an international issue facing nearly every industry, including Hollywood. For years, women in the entertainment industry have been speaking out against the pay inequality that they’ve faced. Now, with movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up, their voices are only amplified.

In honor of Women’s History Month in March, we’ve rounded up 15 powerful famous women who’ve called out the patriarchy in Hollywood and demanded equal pay. And though the pay gap is a huge issue in Hollywood, it’s important to note that pay inequality stretches to industries far and wide. Women everywhere make 80 cents to every dollar a man earns, and enough is enough. Read these celebrities’ empowering stories ahead.

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

After it was revealed in 2014’s Sony hack that Lawrence earned significantly less than her male costars in “American Hustle,” the actress took to Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter to write an essay about how the news shocked and shaped her.

Photo: Getty Images

Emma Stone

Emma Stone

To combat pay inequality, Stone asks her male coworkers to take pay cuts in order for them to have parity. She revealed the impact that the gesture has on her career and worth in an interview with Out.

“In my career so far, I’ve needed my male costars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them,” she said. “And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair.”

“If my male costar, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life.”

Photo: Getty Images

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

In 2016, Williams opened up to Glamour about the pay discrimination she’s faced as a female athlete, despite being one of the top-performing tennis players in the past decade.

“We work just as hard as men do,” she said. “I’ve been working, playing tennis, since I was 3 years old. And to be paid less just because of my sex—it doesn’t seem fair. Will I have to explain to my daughter that her brother is gonna make more money doing the exact same job because he’s a man? If they both played sports since they were 3 years old, they both worked just as hard, but because he’s a boy, they’re gonna give him more money? Like, how am I gonna explain that to her?”

Photo: Getty Images

Viola Davis

Viola Davis

For Davis, equal pay between men and women begins when women of color are afforded the same opportunities as white women. In a 2015 interview with Mashable, the “How to Get Away with Murder” actress opened up about her ideology on equal pay and why, as a woman of color, it isn’t something she’s frequently thinking about.

“I have to be honest with you. I believe in equal pay, first of all,” she told Mashable. “I’m sorry, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should be paid the same amount of money. She just should. That’s just the way the world should work. What are you telling your daughter when she grows up? ‘You’ve got to just understand that you’re a girl. You have a vagina, so that’s not as valuable.’ What are you telling her?”

“But at the same time, with me as an actress of color, I have to say to probably contradict myself, that’s not something I think about on a daily basis. Because the struggle for us as women of color is just to be seen the same as our white female counterparts.”

Photo: Getty Images

Rooney Mara

Rooney Mara

In a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mara called Hollywood’s long-standing pay gap “frustrating,” while also shutting down critics who call women “spoiled brats” for demanding equal pay.

“To me, the thing that’s more unfair than the pay is the terminology that’s used to describe actresses who have a point of view and want to have a voice in their life and their career and what they choose to do,” Mara said. “I’ve been called horrible things. If a man was acting in the same way that I was acting, it would just be considered normal. To me, that’s the thing I find so frustrating is calling women spoiled brats and bitches. We just want to have a voice in our life.”

Photo: Getty Images

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra

Chopra might be a Bollywood veteran, but she’s no stranger to being underpaid in comparison to men.

“It’s a scary place,” she told Glamour in 2017. “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, which it can be, and it is, but that’s not the only thing we have.”

Photo: Getty Images

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

In a 2015 interview with Cosmopolitan, Minaj explained that women are conditioned to feel uncomfortable talking about money, which is why she encourages them to shed that discomfort and ask for what they deserve.

“Women are uncomfortable talking about money,” she said. “I know it’s taboo to discuss it at work. You have to ask questions. ‘What is this person getting?’ Do your research. I’ve always been pretty competitive in terms of my pay.”

Photo: Getty Images

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

In 2017, Portman revealed that she was paid one-third of what her costar Ashley Kutcher made in 2011’s “No Strings Attached.” Though she admits that she “wasn’t as pissed as [she] should’ve been,” she’s now ready to take a stand.

“Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar,” Portman told Marie Claire U.K. “In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”

Photo: Getty Images

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain

In 2015, Chastain touted Jennifer Lawrence for an essay she wrote about experiencing pay inequality on several movies.

Photo: Getty Images

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba

In a 2016 interview with Cosmopolitan U.K., Alba reminded readers that pay inequality extends to many industries outside of Hollywood. Like Chastain, she also praised Lawrence’s bravery in writing an essay about her pay inequality experience.

“Women don’t get equal pay,” she said. “There are not as many women in government positions or business positions. It’s just not equal. And until there is equality, you’re going to feel that, in any industry. But I was like, girls should have an equal seat at the table. Take Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, she’s opening films—she’s the box-office draw just as much as any guy, if not more. She should be compensated for that.”

Photo: Getty Images

Emma Watson

Emma Watson

As a founder of HeForShe, Watson has been a longtime supporter of women’s rights. In 2014, she gave a speech at the United Nations calling for pay equality and the right to make decisions about her own body.

Photo: Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo

In 2018, Pompeo went viral for an essay she wrote in The Hollywood Reporter about the pay inequality she faced on “Grey’s Anatomy,” especially after the show’s male lead, Patrick Dempsey, left.

Pompeo, who revealed that she signed a new deal paying her $575,000 per episode, called out “Grey’s Anatomy” for wanting to cast a man so quickly after Dempsey’s leave.

“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,'” she wrote.

Photo: Getty Images

Beyonce

In a 2013 interview with GQ, Beyoncé shut down critics who’ve told her that women should just accept being paid less than men. “You know, equality is a myth,” she said. “And for some reason, everyone accepts the fact that women don’t make as much money as men do. I don’t understand that. Why do we have to take a backseat?”

Photo: Getty Images

Amy Adams

Like many women, it took a long time for Adams to feel comfortable discussing pay. But after hearing Watson’s speech at the United Stations, she realized that there is nothing to be ashamed about knowing your worth.

Photo: Getty Images

Emmy Rossum

Emmy Rossum

In 2016, Rossum made headlines for her fight to be paid equal to her male costar, William H. Macy, on their Showtime show “Shameless.” In a 2017 panel for Vulture, Rossum explained that she felt compelled to demand equal pay after being on the show for five seasons and realizing that she was just as much of a draw as Macy.

“As the time went on, the leadership role started to feel somewhat shared,” Rossum said. “I just felt that I love the show, I love everyone in it, I want to keep doing it, but I just wanted it to feel right.”

Photo: Getty Images

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