Why Do Women Still Make So Much Less Than Men In Hollywood?

women in hollywood
Splash News / Wenn

Hollywood has a problem with women and things aren’t changing.

Last year in Lena Dunham’s Lenny, Jennifer Lawrence penned an essay titled “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?” A leaked email from December showed that while working on American HustleLawrence and co-star Amy Adams earned just 7% of the film’s back-end, while their male co-stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner each got 9%. This was negotiated up from Lawrence’s original measly offer of 5%.  Lawrence was doing the same amount of work, but earning significantly less despite the fact that she was an Oscar winner and obvious box office draw. That’s not okay.

Flash forward to 2016, and the media seems hyper-aware of Hollywood’s problem with women, so why has hardly anything changed? While Lawrence may have negotiated pay increases by sticking to her guns, not every actress is as lucky. It spans well beyond the realm of already-rich stars arguing over a couple million dollars. It gets really, really personal. If you’re unsure of the problem, just look at what’s happening with Leslie Jones. While her problems aren’t financial, it’s impossible to not mention that she’s a blockbuster star who couldn’t find a single designer to make her a dress for the Ghostbuster’s premier and spent the better part of the last two months being incessantly harassed online (so much so, the FBI got involved). Hollywood is not kind to women, and it’s especially unkind to women who don’t fit a certain idea of beauty.

It’s disappointing to say, but when Forbes released their list of highest-paid actors, we really thought this year might be different. 2015 saw so many vocal stars publicly drawing attention to feminist issues like unequal pay, ridiculous beauty standards, and the lack of women in powerful roles behind-the-scenes. By now, even Taylor Swift has admitted that she’s feminist, so Hollywood has to be on its way to change, right? Wrong. The disparity between male and female earnings is absolutely astounding — and it turns out women are actually making less than in 2015.

Forbes ended up only listing the 10 highest-paid actresses in their round-up because they didn’t include anyone who made less than $10 million. Sure, $9.9 million is still a hefty chunk of change (and something most of us can only dream of), but it seems paltry when paired with the fact that the men’s list was literally twice as long. Even the lowest paid actor on the men’s list still made $15 million.

In total, the top-earning woman brought in a combined $205 million, while the 10 highest-earning men pulled in $456.5 million. That’s over twice the amount the ladies made — twice. For presumably the same job.

This is what the 10 top-earning men made:

1. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – $64 million
2. Jackie Chan – $61 million
3. Matt Damon – $55 million
4. Tom Cruise – $53 million
5. Johnny Depp – $48 million
6. Ben Affleck – $43 million
7. Vin Diesel – $35 million
8. Shah Rukh Khan – $33 million
9. Robert Downey Jr. – $33 million
10. Ashkay Kumar – $31.5 million

And here’s what the highest-earning ladies made:

1. Jennifer Lawrence – $46 million
2. Melissa McCarthy – $33 million
3. Scarlett Johansson – $25 million
4. Jennifer Anniston  – $21 million
5. Fan Bingbing – $17 million
6. Charlize Theron – $16.5 million
7. Amy Adams – $13.5 million
8. Julia Roberts – $12 million
9. Mila Kunis – $11 million
10. Deepika Padukone – $10 million

If you want to get even more angry, let’s look at what these actors and actresses actually did to earn their millions. Sit down before you read this because you might end up wanting to throw your computer out of a window like Mariah Carey.

Melissa McCarthy is the second highest earner on the ladies’ list. She made $33 million last year after working on her all-sizes clothing line and starring in Ghostbusters, arguably one of the most talked-about movies of the last few months. Good for you, Melissa! On IMDB, McCarthy is credited with six separate productions, three of which were starring roles. This also excludes things she is currently working on that don’t have a release date. Even more snaps for you, McCarthy. You’re killing it. Except, not really.

Dwayne Johnson, who pulled in $64 million, only has four credits for 2016. Even if you count Fast 8 and Baywatch because they’re currently in post-production, there’s still no way the Rock should be making almost twice as much as Melissa for doing pretty much the same exact thing.

Things are even more disappointing when you look at what it actually takes for a man to make the same $33 million as McCarthy. Surely, anyone would have to star in at least a couple Blockbuster hits or own a wildly successful company, right? Nope. Basically, it doesn’t take a whole lot to pull in the big bucks when you’re a dude in Hollywood. Robert Downey Jr. made $33 million this year — and yes, we know he’s a highly revered actor — but all he had to do was make one film. One film. The actor played Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War.

Women are making less than their male counterparts in Hollywood, and just about everywhere else, but what’s particularly disturbing is that women in Hollywood are also making less than they were last year. McCarthy may have earned $33 million this year, but last year, Scarlett Johansson nabbed second place with $35.5 million — $2.5 million more than McCarthy made this year. McCarthy’s earnings are actually the lowest they’ve been in three years for someone at second place. Jennifer Lawrence also pulled in $6 million less than she did the year prior, though she did do a lot of different movies last year in the wake of The Hunger Games, so we could chalk it up to that.

To sum it up, if things aren’t looking so great for Hollywood’s top actresses, what does that mean for the rest of us? Is there hope?

 

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