Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer fight for equal pay

Jessica Chastain speaks at San Diego Comic Con in 2015. Photo source: Wikipedia.

Jessica Chastain speaks at San Diego Comic Con in 2015. Photo source: Wikipedia.

Many people want to eliminate the wage gap in the workplace, but not many people know how to work toward change as a lone individual. Most know about disparity of wages between men and women, but not many realize the gaps between a white person and a person of color. Jessica Chastain, known for her role in “Sloane,” took a stand against this issue by combining the negotiations of her pay with her fellow co-star.

Chastain is a long-time friend of Octavia Spencer, who was her old co-star in “The Help” in 2011. The two of them attended the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and spoke at a “Women Breaking Barriers” pane, addressing many different topics, including the wage disparity between actors and actress.

“It was quite disturbing to me to be honest,” Chastain said at the panel. “There are some exceptions, I will say, but for the most part I was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films.”

There is a depressing hierarchy to the disparity that is becoming more and more apparent to the world. Women in the United States are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. Black women are on average paid 63 cents and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, according to the National Partnership Organization.  

So she did something about it. In a successful attempt to ensure better pay for Spencer, Chastain negotiated deals that resulted in a pay raise five times greater than Spencer’s usual salary.

“She had been underpaid for so long. When I discovered that, I realized that I could tie her deal to mine to bring up her quote. Men should start doing this with their female co-stars,” Chastain said.

Chastain has been very outspoken about the struggles women face within the workplace, and everyone is happy to see the payoff from someone taking the stand. Spencer isn’t the only one benefitting from Chastain’s efforts for equality.

In a panel for “Diverse Storytelling,” Jada Pinkett Smith revealed that Chastain helped her in a similar manner. “It’s nice to go out and march, we can do that,” Pinkett Smith said. “It’s nice to wear black at the Golden Globes, but what are we doing behind closed doors? And I got to give our sister Jessica Chastain her props.”