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Things We Saw Today: Ellen Pompeo Interrupted a Television Actress Roundtable to Call out Its Lack of On-Set Diversity

When Net-a-Porter released their latest television actress roundtable discussion, I admit I didn’t pay much attention. That, it turns out, was a mistake. The conversation had by Ellen Pompeo, Gabrielle Union, Gina Rodriguez, and Emma Roberts turned out to be a brutally honest one about the disparities in their industry.

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You can watch the whole discussion (or at least a 25-minute chunk of it) above, where the four women discuss the struggle to close the wage gap in Hollywood and all the tricks producers and studios use to keep it in place. (“Fuck creatively fulfilling, give me my money,” says Pompeo in one especially badass moment.) And while they include race as an essential part of that discussion, the conversation really gets intense when they switch tracks to focus solely on issues of race and representation on set.

Addressing the room they’re shooting in, Ellen Pompeo says, “This day has been incredible, and there’s a ton of women in the room, but I don’t see enough color. And I didn’t see enough color when I walked in the room today. I had a meeting with the director of another endorsement project that I’m doing. I said, ‘When I show up on set, I would like to see the crew look like the world that I walk around in every day.’ And I think it’s up to all productions to make sure that your crew looks like the world we see.

She goes on to say, “As Caucasian people, it’s our job, it’s our task, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we speak up in every single room we walk into, that this is not okay and we can all do better. It’s our job because we’ve created the problem.”

Gina Rodriguez also had some incredibly powerful words about her goals when she made the move to producing and making sure that the “they” (meaning the people in charge) was always a more inclusive group than it was on the projects where she felt like she couldn’t speak up about those things.

If you have a few minutes to spare, I highly recommend watching the whole video, or at least from the 16:00 mark on. It’s an important conversation and the women aren’t afraid to get emotional while having it.

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ETA: The article originally misattributed the roundtable discussion to The Hollywood Reporter. We apologize for the mistake.

(image: YouTube)

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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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