Jessica Chastain helped co-star Octavia Spencer secure five times her usual fee for their new film.
The Help star has revealed that Jessica, her co-star on the 2011 movie, pushed for the pair to earn equal pay for their upcoming holiday comedy after she learned how little women of color earn in Hollywood compared to their white colleagues.
At an event at the Sundance Film Festival on Wednesday (23Jan18) the 47-year-old, who won an Oscar for her performance in the movie, explained that Jessica negotiated the rise after they discussed the issue of pay equity in Hollywood.
“About 15 months ago, Jessica Chastain… contacted me and said, ‘I want us to do a comedy,’” Octavia told the audience at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Women Breaking Barriers panel, reported People magazine. “I’m like, ‘Yeah!’ She called me six months later, which would have been last March, and we were talking about pay equity with men and women.
“She was like, ‘It’s time that women get paid as much as men.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah Jessica, it’s time!’ We were dropping F-bombs and getting it all out there.”
The Hidden Figures star then raised the issue of pay disparity between women of color and white women in the industry, which came as a shock to Jessica.
“And then I said, ‘But here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women,” explained Octavia. “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.”
Octavia praised the Zero Dark Thirty star for “walking the walk” as Jessica insisted that the pair would make the same amount for the as yet untitled movie.
“Fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for,” smiled Octavia, who was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in The Shape of Water on Monday (21Jan18).
The pair’s holiday movie has been greenlit by Universal, with Jessica signed on as co-writer.