Actress Gets Offered Less Than Half Of Her Male Co-Star’s Pay, Says No Thanks

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Actress Gets Offered Less Than Half Of Her Male Co-Star’s Pay, Says No Thanks

British actress Sienna Miller turned down a role on Broadway after she learned how much less she would be paid than her potential male co-star.

“It was a play with just two of us on stage and I was offered less than half of what he was going to be paid,” she revealed in an interview with Vogue. “If it was two men, it wouldn’t probably happen. Sad, but I walked away.”

She hasn’t named the play, but Miller recently played Sally Bowles in Cabaret and has performed in other theater productions, as well as starring in last year’s American Sniper.

The issue of unequal pay among some of the most prominent actors in Hollywood has recently gained more attention. Amanda Seyfried revealed that she was paid just 10 percent of what her male co-star made for a big-budget film. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda protested being paid less than Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson in their new show Grace and Frankie, despite being the headliners and main characters. Charlize Theron found out she was making $10 million less than Chris Hemsworth for co-starring with him in The Huntsman, so she demanded and secured a raise.

But for all the actresses who find out they’re paid less, there are far more who likely don’t know they might be paid unequally compared to their male colleagues. It took the Sony hack to reveal that all of the main male actors in American Hustle were paid higher than Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, despite Adams’s four Academy Awards nominations and Lawrence’s Academy Award win and smash hit role in The Hunger Games.

On the whole, the highest-paid actors collectively make millions more than the highest-paid actresses, and the best paid, Robert Downey, Jr., makes more than the combined pay of the two top-paid actresses, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence. It may be hard to compare apples to apples given that women get fewer shots at protagonist roles, but they also rake in more money for studios when they do.

After the Sony hack, then-Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal, said that actresses should refuse jobs if they aren’t being paid enough. “They have to walk away. People shouldn’t be so grateful for jobs,” she said. But that assumes both that the women know they are being paid less and that they feel they can afford to turn down a role both financially and for their own careers.

This solution to the pay gap is even harder for women who aren’t making millions at work. About half of Americans say they can’t talk about pay at work, despite the legal right to do so, which makes it difficult for them to find out if they’re being unfairly paid less. And for the women who are in low-paid work or who get by on tight incomes, walking away from a job if they do uncover a pay gap just may not be possible.

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This has been reposted from Think Progress.

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Image by oklanica/Flickr.

Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media. Follow her on Twitter @brycecovert

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