(LOS ANGELES) — In The Help, Octavia Spencer plays a maid who helps Jessica Chastain’s character through a difficult period in her life. Off screen, it was Chastain who came to Spencer’s aid when she learned the actress, who’s African-American, was making less than other actresses in a film comedy in which Chastain and Spencer will star.
Now a vocal advocate for gender pay equality, the Time’s Up initiative and #MeToo, Chastain told The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview why she stood up for Spencer, who won an Oscar for The Help, in which she starred with Chastain.
“This is the God’s honest truth — I care more about what Octavia’s getting paid than what I’m getting paid… Equal pay for equal work!”
“I knew women of color got paid less,” Chastain continued. “What I didn’t know is someone of Octavia’s level, who had an Oscar and two Oscar nominations, how much less she would be getting paid. When she told me what she was making, [I said] ‘Hold up, that doesn’t compute in my brain.'”
During a panel at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, Spencer said of Chastain, “She said, ‘You and I are going to be tied together. We’re going to be favored nations and we’re gonna make the same thing, you are going to make that amount.’ Fast-forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”
For her upcoming female-fronted spy thriller, 355, which Chastain produced, the actress ensured all five starring actresses would be paid equally and get a share of the profits.
“It was a system that wasn’t working,” said Chastain. “And so I thought, ‘Well, what if we now take the power and give it to the actresses?'”
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