7 Powerful Women Who Fought for Wage Equality

Celebs Fight for Equal Pay - LEAD
Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

After almost 12 years at E! News, Daily Pop host Catt Sadler left the network after finding out that she was making half the salary of her male co-host. And she's not the only woman to stand up for wage equality in Hollywood.

After seven seasons of leading Showtime’s hit dramedy, Shameless, Emmy Rossum finally began receiving fair compensation for her work.

Rossum reportedly held off on confirming her return for a possible eighth season of the series due to wage disputes—the actress demanded to be paid more than her co-star William H. Macy, whose role is less prominent than Rossum’s. In a rare but wonderful turn of events, Rossum seems to have gotten what she deserves.

The Shameless star tweeted that she’d soon be back on set. “Playing Fiona Gallagher has been one of the great privileges of my life. I'm so happy to continue w my SHAMELESS family! Back to work in May!”

Hooray for happy and fairly compensated Gallaghers!

Sadly, exciting news like this is far from commonplace, but we have hope that the wage gap will continue to shrink.

In honor of Rossum’s game-changing victory, here are six other inspiring actresses who fought for wage equality.

01 of 06

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

“I’m not taking jobs anymore where I’m getting paid a quarter of what the male co-star is being paid. I’m not allowing that in my life,” the Zookeeper’s Wife actress said outright.

"There was something huge that I recently turned down," Chastain told Variety, "For me, it wasn’t about the money; it was an old-fashioned problem of the wage gap. I turned it down, and they didn’t come back. I remember afterwards I was like, 'What did I do? Maybe it was a mistake.' But it wasn’t, because everyone in the studio system heard what I did. So what you’re doing is creating a reputation: Don’t bring Jessica something where she’s not being fairly compensated compared to the male actor. Even though I lost that film, I’ve created a boundary. I drew a line in the sand."

02 of 06

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

The Oscar-winning actress recently spoke out about her experience with the sexist wage gap in Hollywood. According to Portman, her No Strings Attached costar, Ashton Kutcher, was paid three-times her salary for his role in the 2011 film. "I wasn’t as pissed as I should have been," Portman said of the initial shock, "I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy." The actress went on to shed more light on the issue, telling Marie Claire UK, "Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar. In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar... I don’t think women and men are more or less capable. We just have a clear issue with women not having opportunities. We need to be part of the solution, not perpetuating the problem.”

03 of 06

Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson
David M. Benett/Getty

The X-Files star claims she was offered half of co-star David Duchovny's salary to return for the series' reboot this past year. After publicly voicing the wage disparity, Anderson and Duchovny were eventually paid equally for their 2016 return.

04 of 06

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence
Steve Granitz/WireImage

In October 2015, Lawrence drew attention to the wage gap with her groundbreaking Lenny Letter: “Jennifer Lawrence: ‘Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?’” It’s a damn good question, considering Lawrence is a household name, an Oscar-winner, and a four-time nominee. The actress’s voice didn’t go unheard. Lawrence was reportedly paid $20 million for her work in sci-fi blockbuster Passengers, while co-star Chris Pratt reportedly walked away with $12 million.

05 of 06

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Before starting work on the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel, the Oscar-winner asked to be paid equally to herco-star Chris Hemsworth. Her request paid off, literally, and Theron reportedly ended up taking home $10 million for her role.

06 of 06

Robin Wright

Robin Wright
Julian Parker/UK Press

As House of Cards' First Lady, Wright was receiveing roughly $80,000 less per episode than co-star Kevin Spacey. In a very Claire Underwood-esque ploy, the actress threatened to go public with the wage inequality and was then rewarded with pay equal to Spacey.

Related Articles