Closing the gap

Ellie Koechner

2020 has been the year of change,  with the advancements of the #MeToo movement, continuing with the Black Lives Matter protests, all the way to the election of the first female vice president. Society is starting to speak up for those who have not had a voice for many years and the fight for equality is now at the forefront. 

The systemic sexism in the film industry goes back decades, but actresses and actors are finally finding their voices and speaking out about the gender inequality they have experienced working on sets in Hollywood. According to Forbes, the top 10 highest paid actresses in 2018 earned less than 30 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson was named the highest-paid actress of the year, making $198.5 million less than the highest-paid male actor, George Clooney. Johansson told Cosmopolitan the situation puts her in an “uncomfortable and icky” position. 

“I think every woman has been underpaid, but unless I’m addressing it as a larger problem, for me to talk about my own personal experience with it feels a little obnoxious, it’s  part of a larger conversation about feminism in general,” Johansson said. 

Michelle Williams, a well-known female actress, spoke out on Equal Pay Day in 2019 about her personal experience when news broke that she was paid $1,000 compared to Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million for reshoots. 

“This came as no surprise to me, it simply reinforced my life-learned belief that equality is not an inalienable right and that women would always be working just as hard for less money while shouldering more responsibility at home,” Williams said. 

Junior Maddie Steger also had an opinion on the issue.

“It is really concerning to see that this is still happening in 2020. As a woman, I want to know that I will be guaranteed the same amount of pay as a man if we are doing the same work. I hope we can all do our part and begin to see change soon,” Steger said. 

Benedict Cumberbatch, a well-known actor in Hollywood, most known for his roles in Sherlock and Doctor Strange, decided to speak out on the issue as well. In an interview with Radio Times, he announced that he will only commit himself to projects in Hollywood if his female co-stars are receiving the same amount. 

Some may say this fight for change is unnecessary because men typically have more important roles in films making the demand higher. 

Although this may be true in some circumstances, lead actresses still dedicate the same amount of time, energy and commitment that should be recognized. 

Although the fight is long from over, if both female and male stars continue to speak out about the gender bias present in Hollywood, there will be change.