By Joining Forces, These Two Actresses Scored A Major Win For Equal Pay For All Women

"Now, I wanna go to what the men are making!"

As if we weren't already excited enough for a holiday comedy starring Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer, but now there's a reason to laud the film even before it hits the big screen. By joining forces, the actresses were able to not only get paid what they deserved as women for this movie but to get paid equally — regardless of race.

Spencer, who starred in 2011's The Help alongside Chastain, revealed how this all went down at a Sundance Film Festival panel titled Women Breaking Barriers. The story, which begins around the 19:30 mark, features Spencer emotionally recalling how Chastain — who has been outspoken about equal pay, among other aspects of women in Hollywood — stood up for what was right.

"I have a story, and you guys are gonna be the first to hear it," the Hidden Figures star said, explaining how Chastain wanted to do comedy while she herself wanted to break away from period pieces — despite how much they've done for her career, she wants to try something a bit different. When the topic turned to pay equality, the two were mostly on the same page until Spencer enlightened the Molly's Game star on how women of color are underpaid.

"We were dropping F-bombs and getting it all out there. And then I said, 'But here's the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than White women. So, if we're gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table.' And I told her my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that's what it was like for women of color."

It's true. While there is a push to close the gender pay gap across many industries, the problem still remains that women of color make less than their White counterparts and have fewer opportunities to boot. It might be bad for Black women, but then you think about Latina women, Asian women, Native American women, and so on. For Chastain to listen to Spencer, it shows something we need to see more of — and something the #MeToo and Time's Up movements will hopefully inspire: alliances between all types of women.

After all, what's the biggest difference between Spencer and Chastain? Spencer has been nominated for three Oscars (and even won one) while Chastain has been nominated for two (with zero wins thus far), and Chastain may be younger than Spencer (40 compared to 47), but Spencer has been acting longer than Chastain (with an IMDb starting at 1996 compared to 2004. It has to be race — there's no tiptoeing around the issue.

"I love that woman, because she's walking the walk and she's actually talking the talk," Spencer said, telling the audience she had "happy tears" thinking about her conversation with Chastain. "She said, 'Octavia, we're gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. We're gonna be favored nations, and we're gonna make the same thing.' Fast forward to last week, we're making five times what we asked for. Now, I wanna go to what the men are making!"

In saying this last line, Spencer hits on something important: male stars should be doing this for their female counterparts, at a minimum. It wouldn't be a detriment to their career and, if anything, just puts everyone on a level playing field. Nothing to lose, right? If men are asking what they can do to be better for women, this is certainly one suggestion. Chastain agrees.

The dynamic duo of Spencer and Chastain has been lauded by many, but one voice adding some context to the story is Jada Pinkett Smith. In a tweet, the Girls Trip star explained that, while this pay disparity goes beyond the entertainment industry, this is hopefully a sign of how we can move beyond speaking out on social media, wearing black on the red carpet, and other forms of peaceful protest.

"I can only hope that with all the beautiful alliances made as of late in the entertainment industry that women of color can lean on our courageous and compassionate white sisters to flow us their support and power to create more equality in this area as we move forward," Pinkett Smith wrote.

Onward and upward toward equality for all, ladies!

(H/T: Indiewire)


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