Jurassic World‘s Judy Greer Brings the Co-Star Perspective To the Hollywood Wage Gap Discussion
Not everyone can demand $10 Million a film.
We’ve heard a lot from female, A-list celebrities about the gender disparity with regard to salaries paid in Hollywood. It seems that every other day, women like Charlize Theron or Patricia Arquette are speaking up about women being paid less than their male counterparts in film and television. Judy Greer of Jurassic World and the FX sitcom, Married, is the latest. What’s different about what she has to say is that she’s speaking for the actresses who aren’t Box Office Gold. Whereas Charlize Theron can easily negotiate for $10 Million and get it, negotiation looks a lot different for someone at co-star level. And yet looking at the gender disparity there is just as, if not more, necessary.
In a thought-provoking essay for Glamour Magazine (they do write about more than fashion and “how to please your man!”), called “Why Should a Man Make More Than Me?”, Greer uses both facts and figures and personal experience to illustrate how the problem affects women all up and down the Hollywood ladder.
Because it’s not just about certain guys being “bigger stars,” or “stronger box office draws.” It really does start at the bottom and continue throughout a woman’s career, here’s what Greer tells us about her experience:
Based on conversations with friends (and yes, some polite gossip), I’m pretty sure I’ve earned less than many of my male costars over the years. And I’ve watched as men I started out with—guys who worked with the same directors and on the same types of shows as I did— climbed the ladder and landed larger roles with even larger paychecks. I’d always hoped that my career and salary would follow theirs. But instead the pay gap kept growing. One big reason: The parts available to me as a woman are usually smaller and harder to come by. This problem spans the industry—the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that among the top-grossing films of 2014, only 12 percent of the jobs for actresses were considered “leading roles.” With such slim pickings, women are rarely in a position to negotiate for higher salaries. (Or, as my manager despairingly puts it, the studios can always find someone else who needs a job.) The salary documents released in the Sony hacking scandal proved that even leading women— giant movie stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams—still earn less than their male counterparts. How many Oscar nods and billion-dollar-grossing franchises does a girl have to get before she’s paid equally?
And as much as we all love Charlize Theron, Greer makes the excellent point that the solution extends beyond “women asking for more” if Hollywood is to solve this systemic problem across the board, and Greer knows this:
Sometimes I get mad at myself for not demanding more. I idolize Charlize Theron, who reportedly negotiated a $10 million aise after she discovered she was making less money than her male costar on The Huntsman. I know that’s what actresses—and all women who want equal pay—are supposed to do, lest we give our employers the OK to carry on as usual. “People want to work for less money, I pay them less money,” said the former Sony CEO Amy Pascal in February. “Women shouldn’t be so grateful…. Walk away.” But that seems unrealistic for me. Acting is my job. I have to pay for my life somehow, and I still need gas and food and the occasional blowout. I could, of course, refuse work that won’t pay as well, wait for the perfect project to come along, and then hope and pray that it’s a financial and critical success. But that means I would be willing to work less, earn less, and wait for results that are totally out of my control. How is that really a choice?
Like many women in Hollywood (and hell, pretty much anywhere else), Greer had been afraid to talk about the issue publicly for fear of “appearing difficult.” But this is exactly why it’s so important that she’s jumped on this momentum now. Thank you, Judy, for speaking up and encouraging even more women to step forward and demand their due.
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