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18 Famous Women Who Have Spoken Out Against Pay Inequality

Gender-based pay inequality is an international issue facing nearly every industry, including Hollywood. For years, women in the entertainment industry have been speaking out against the pay inequality that they’ve faced. Now, with movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up, voices from celebrities against pay inequality are only amplified. In honor of Women’s History Month in March, we’ve rounded up 18 powerful famous women who’ve called out the patriarchy in Hollywood and demanded equal pay.

And though the pay gap is a huge issue in Hollywood, it’s important to note that pay inequality stretches to industries far and wide. Women everywhere make 80 cents to every dollar a man earns, and enough is enough. There have been countless female celebrities who are taking a stand against pay inequality, like Patricia Arquette at the 2015 Oscars “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

And Ellen Pompeo in her 2018 essay for The Hollywood Reporter, where she talked about fighting for a pay raise after her love interest quit the show. “And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house,'” she wrote. Read these celebrities’ empowering stories and more, ahead.

Bryce Dallas Howard Bryce Dallas Howard

For the "Jurassic World" actress, higher pay wasn't something that she discussed in her early career due to a fear of being seen as "ungrateful."

“I’ve been [wimpy] about it in the past,” she admitted. “I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t grateful for opportunities. I also get scared off by every threat during a negotiation," Howard said. "They’ll say, ‘We’ll just have to find someone else,’ and I back off. You can’t do that.”

Howard, who is the daughter of director Ron Howard, also talked about how women in the entertainment industry are often told that they need a manager and an agent to find jobs, whereas men don't. “What we get paid is totally, completely, astronomically different than what male celebrities get paid,” she said. “And for women of color, it’s a hundred times worse. Even my dad has been shocked at how expensive it is to be a woman in the industry. You’re told that it’s important to have a manager as well as an agent, and for a guy that’s not as important. That’s 20 percent out of your paycheck rather than 10 percent.”

Now, Bryce feels like she's conditioned to spend little. The actress, who lives in a three-bedroom house, claims that many actresses who are successful and wealthy also experience a discomfort with their money because of sexism in the industry.

“I’m not a spender. I live in a three-bedroom house—in fact, we just downsized," she said. "I know that we’re privileged; we don’t have to worry about paying our rent or our medical bills. But I wish people knew that this is what the life of most successful female celebrities is,” she explained.

Photo: Getty Images Jennifer Lawrence Jennifer Lawrence

After it was revealed in 2014's Sony hack that Lawrence earned significantly less than her male costars in "American Hustle," the actress took to Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter to write an essay about how the news shocked and shaped her.

"I would be lying if I didn't say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight," she wrote. "I didn't want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled.' At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn't worry about being difficult or spoiled."

Photo: Getty Images Emma Stone Emma Stone

To combat pay inequality, Stone asks her male coworkers to take pay cuts in order for them to have parity. She revealed the impact that the gesture has on her career and worth in an interview with Out.

"In my career so far, I've needed my male costars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them," she said. "And that's something they do for me because they feel it’s what's right and fair."

"If my male costar, 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."

Photo: Getty Images Serena Williams Serena Williams

In 2016, Williams opened up to Glamour about the pay discrimination she's faced as a female athlete, despite being one of the top-performing tennis players in the past decade.

"We work just as hard as men do," she said. "I've been working, playing tennis, since I was 3 years old. And to be paid less just because of my sex—it doesn't seem fair. Will I have to explain to my daughter that her brother is gonna make more money doing the exact same job because he's a man? If they both played sports since they were 3 years old, they both worked just as hard, but because he's a boy, they're gonna give him more money? Like, how am I gonna explain that to her?"

Photo: Getty Images Viola Davis Viola Davis

For Davis, equal pay between men and women begins when women of color are afforded the same opportunities as white women. In a 2015 interview with Mashable, the "How to Get Away with Murder" actress opened up about her ideology on equal pay and why, as a woman of color, it isn't something she's frequently thinking about.

"I have to be honest with you. I believe in equal pay, first of all," she told Mashable. "I’m sorry, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should be paid the same amount of money. She just should. That’s just the way the world should work. What are you telling your daughter when she grows up? ‘You've got to just understand that you’re a girl. You have a vagina, so that’s not as valuable.’ What are you telling her?"

"But at the same time, with me as an actress of color, I have to say to probably contradict myself, that’s not something I think about on a daily basis. Because the struggle for us as women of color is just to be seen the same as our white female counterparts."

Photo: Getty Images Rooney Mara Rooney Mara

In a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mara called Hollywood's long-standing pay gap "frustrating," while also shutting down critics who call women "spoiled brats" for demanding equal pay.

"To me, the thing that’s more unfair than the pay is the terminology that’s used to describe actresses who have a point of view and want to have a voice in their life and their career and what they choose to do,” Mara said. “I’ve been called horrible things. If a man was acting in the same way that I was acting, it would just be considered normal. To me, that’s the thing I find so frustrating is calling women spoiled brats and bitches. We just want to have a voice in our life.”

Photo: Getty Images Priyanka Chopra Priyanka Chopra

Chopra might be a Bollywood veteran, but she's no stranger to being underpaid in comparison to men.

"It's a scary place," she told Glamour in 2017. "You will be rejected. I was rejected many times. I cried. I was told that female actors are replaceable in films because they just stand behind a guy anyway."

"I'm still used to being paid—like most actresses around the world—a lot less than the boys. We're told we're too provocative or that being sexy is our strength, which it can be, and it is, but that's not the only thing we have."

Photo: Getty Images Nicki Minaj Nicki Minaj

In a 2015 interview with Cosmopolitan, Minaj explained that women are conditioned to feel uncomfortable talking about money, which is why she encourages them to shed that discomfort and ask for what they deserve.

"Women are uncomfortable talking about money," she said. "I know it’s taboo to discuss it at work. You have to ask questions. ‘What is this person getting?’ Do your research. I’ve always been pretty competitive in terms of my pay."

Photo: Getty Images Natalie Portman Natalie Portman

In 2017, Portman revealed that she was paid one-third of what her costar Ashton Kutcher made in 2011's "No Strings Attached." Though she admits that she "wasn't as pissed as [she] should've been," she's now ready to take a stand.

“Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar,” Portman told Marie Claire U.K. “In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”

Photo: Getty Images Jessica Chastain Jessica Chastain

In 2015, Chastain touted Jennifer Lawrence for an essay she wrote about experiencing pay inequality on several movies.

"There's no reason why [an actress such as Lawrence] should be doing a film with other actors and get paid less than her male costars," she told Variety. "It's completely unfair. It's not right. It's been happening for years and years and years. I think it's brave to talk about it. I think everyone should talk about it."

Photo: Getty Images Jessica Alba Jessica Alba

In a 2016 interview with Cosmopolitan U.K., Alba reminded readers that pay inequality extends to many industries outside of Hollywood. Like Chastain, she also praised Lawrence's bravery in writing an essay about her pay inequality experience.

"Women don't get equal pay," she said. "There are not as many women in government positions or business positions. It's just not equal. And until there is equality, you're going to feel that, in any industry. But I was like, girls should have an equal seat at the table. Take Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, she's opening films—she's the box-office draw just as much as any guy, if not more. She should be compensated for that."

Photo: Getty Images Emma Watson Emma Watson

As a founder of HeForShe, Watson has been a longtime supporter of women's rights. In 2014, she gave a speech at the United Nations calling for pay equality and the right to make decisions about her own body.

"I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts," she said. "I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men."

Photo: Getty Images Ellen Pompeo Ellen Pompeo

In 2018, Pompeo went viral for an essay she wrote in The Hollywood Reporter about the pay inequality she faced on "Grey's Anatomy," especially after the show's male lead, Patrick Dempsey, left.

Pompeo, who revealed that she signed a new deal paying her $575,000 per episode, called out "Grey's Anatomy" for wanting to cast a man so quickly after Dempsey's leave.

"And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house,'" she wrote.

Photo: Getty Images Beyonce

In a 2013 interview with GQ, Beyoncé shut down critics who've told her that women should just accept being paid less than men. "You know, equality is a myth," she said. "And for some reason, everyone accepts the fact that women don't make as much money as men do. I don't understand that. Why do we have to take a backseat?"

Photo: Getty Images Amy Adams

Like many women, it took a long time for Adams to feel comfortable discussing pay. But after hearing Watson's speech at the United Stations, she realized that there is nothing to be ashamed about knowing your worth.

"I wasn't comfortable [talking about it] because I don't feel bad for myself as an actress," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. "I feel really fortunate. I started doing research, and it was striking how women don't feel comfortable negotiating for raises."

Photo: Getty Images Emmy Rossum Emmy Rossum

In 2016, Rossum made headlines for her fight to be paid equal to her male costar, William H. Macy, on their Showtime show "Shameless." In a 2017 panel for Vulture, Rossum explained that she felt compelled to demand equal pay after being on the show for five seasons and realizing that she was just as much of a draw as Macy.

“As the time went on, the leadership role started to feel somewhat shared," Rossum said. "I just felt that I love the show, I love everyone in it, I want to keep doing it, but I just wanted it to feel right."

Photo: Getty Images Patricia Arquette Patricia Arquette

After winning the Oscar for Boyhood in 2015, Arquette used her three-minute speech to call for pay equality between the sexes.

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” Arquette said. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Photo: Vera Anderson/Getty Images. Charlize Theron Charlize Theron

When Theron starred in 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman, she fought for a pay raise to match her male costar, Chris Hemsworth, which she received.

“I have to give them credit because once I asked, they said yes,” she told Elle U.K. in June 2015. “They did not fight it. And maybe that’s the message: that we just need to put our foot down. If you’re doing the same job, you should be compensated and treated in the same way.”

Photo: Shutterstock.

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