Viola Davis: If I’m the Black Meryl Streep, ‘Pay Me What I’m Worth’



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Viola Davis may be one of the most sought after actresses in show business, but as a woman of color, she still fights pay inequality at every turn.
Although she stands in solidarity with women who’ve stepped forward regarding gender bias, Davis said she experiences an additional inequality because she is paid a fraction of what white actresses with similar training, experience and talent earn.
“What they’re getting paid — which is half of what a man is getting paid — well, we get probably a tenth of what a Caucasian woman gets. And I’m number one on the call sheet,” she said referring to African-American women in an interview for Women in the World.
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True, she has had a career better than most SAG card holders, one that she said is probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver and others. But it still doesn’t add up.
“I got the Oscar, I got the Emmy, I got the two Tonys. I’ve done Broadway, I’ve done off-Broadway, I’ve done TV, I’ve done film. I’ve done all of it,” she said. “And yet, I am nowhere near them, not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities. Nowhere close to it.”
She has all that going for her, but she still gets on the phone and hustles for every job, and frequently hears the same old thing.
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“People say, ‘You’re a black Meryl Streep. You are. And we love you. We love you. There is no one like you,’” she said, mimicking potential employers. “OK, then if there’s no one like me, if you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth. You give me what I’m worth.”
You can watch the interview by clicking here.

After Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech and Jennifer Lawrence’s Lenny essay last year, more and more actresses have spoken out about pay inequality.

Patricia Arquette
Arquette delivered a moving speech about pay inequality during her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech for her role in “Boyhood,” but she didn’t stop there. In August 2016, she told TheWrap, “Look, inequality is in 98 percent of all industries, so I’m not surprised it’s still in Hollywood. That’s just part and parcel with what’s happening across the nation.”
However, she is seeing some progress: “A lot of studios are actually really making it a priority. There’s incremental changes as far as Hollywood goes.”
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Hilary Swank
In October 2016, Swank told Chelsea Handler on “Chelsea”  that “Boys Don’t Cry” didn’t pay enough to cover her health insurance. Then she revealed that she earned only 5 percent of what one of her male counterparts earned on another  movie.
“But the male hadn’t had any kind of critical success, but had been in a movie where he was ‘hot,”‘ she said. “And he got offered $10 million, and I got offered $500,000.”
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Emma Stone
The “La La Land” actress told Vogue in November 2016, “We should all be treated fairly and paid fairly. I’ve been lucky enough to have equal pay to my male costars. Not ‘lucky.’ I’ve had pay equal to my male costars in the past few films. But our industry ebbs and flows in a way that’s like, ‘How much are you bringing into the box office?’”
“What are we at [nationally]? Seventy-nine cents to the dollar?” Stone continued. “It’s insane. There’s no excuse for it anymore.”
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Michelle Rodriguez
In May 2016, Rodriguez invoked the S word in discussing Hollywood’s gender pay gap. “It’s like being born a slave. You know it’s like, ‘Oh, damn. Darn my luck. I wish I was born somewhere else or maybe some other way,’” the actress said. “But it is what it is.”

Robin Wright
The “House of Cards” star demanded to be paid the same as co-star Kevin Spacey and threatened to go “public” if Netflix didn’t cough up the dough. “I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin,’” Wright told media at the Rockefeller Foundation earlier this year. “There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in ‘House of Cards.’”
She added, “I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public,’” Wright said. “And they did.”
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Viola Davis
In February 2016, the “How to Get Away With Murder” actress told Mashable, “I believe in equal pay, first of all. 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?”
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Emmy Rossum
The star of “Shameless” nearly scuttled Showtime’s plans for an eighth season when she demanded to be paid the same as series co-star William H. Macy, who plays her father on the show (a move that Macy supported). The gambit worked: She wound up getting a new deal.
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Many stars rallied against gender pay gap in Hollywood — and “Shameless” star Emmy Rossum actually won

After Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech and Jennifer Lawrence’s Lenny essay last year, more and more actresses have spoken out about pay inequality.

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