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Emma Stone Explains How Necessary Her Male Costars’ Help Is in the Battle For Equal Pay

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The Hollywood wage gap continues to get the attention it deserves, as more and more women and POC in the entertainment industry choose to get candid on the topic. We’ve seen some actors take difficult stands recently in the name of parity (like Emmy Rossum reportedly holding up production on the next season of Shameless until Showtime agreed to match William H. Macy’s salary)–ones that don’t always work out as we’d hope, as we so recently saw with Hawaii Five-0’s underpaid Asian cast members.

In an interview with Out Magazine, Emma Stone talked about how her male costars have had to help her on the road to equal pay.

“In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them. And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair. That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily—that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair.’ If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life.”

The way pay in Hollywood is negotiated can be confusing. We’ve seen men (Jeremey Renner springs to mind) and women, as Jennifer Lawrence made clear in her essay on the subject, that the lack of transparency, as well as the role of agents and managers, often leaves actors unaware of what the negotiation process looks like for their costars, as well as themselves.

But those “quotes” Stone talks about are important. An actor’s quote is what they made on their last movie, and both the number, and how it compared to costars, is important in negotiating their next paycheck. If Stone had made significantly less than Ryan Gosling on La La Land, for example, it would be harder for her to get a paycheck equaling that of her next male costar. That’s why a leading man offering to take a pay cut–something I would assume is exceptionally rare–really can change a woman’s whole career trajectory.

“It’s not about, ‘Women are this and men are that,'” she went on. “It is, ‘We are all the same, we are all equal, we all deserve the same respect and the same rights.’ And that’s really what I’ve been so grateful for with male co-stars—when I’ve been in a similar-size role in films, and it’s been multiple people who have been really incredible and said, ‘That’s what I want to do. That’s what’s fair and what’s right.'”

Stone doesn’t actually say which men have done this for her, but since she’s being interviewed by tennis legend Billie Jean King, about the upcoming Battle of the Sexesa movie all about misogyny and equality, I’m going to hope and assume her costar Steve Carell is part of this conversation. If those two don’t get equal paychecks for this movie, of all movies, those optics would be really bad.

Channelling the tennis legend she plays in the movie (who, by the way, was the one interviewing her), Emma Stone says she’s all about “Billie Jean’s feminism”: “She is equality, man: equality, equality, equality.”

(via Out, image: Fox Searchlight)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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