By Ryan Velez
When it comes to pay equality along racial and gender lines, it’s important to both talk the talk and walk the walk. Indiewire reports that Jessica Chastain, who has long spoken out for equal pay for women in Hollywood, is doing just that, as told in a story by Octavia Spencer from when the two were working on a project together. While developing a comedy for the two actresses, Chastain brokered a “favored nations” deal, bundling their salary and led to both women getting paid five times their original asking salary.
“I have a story, and you guys are gonna be the first to hear it,” said Spencer to a panel on Women Breaking Barriers at the Sundance Film Festival. Fifteen months ago, Chastain approached her about doing a movie together. (The two have been good friends since they both starred in “The Help”).
“She wants to do comedies, and I wanna break out of period pieces,” she said as the crowd chuckled. “I love ’em! They’ve been kind to me! But I kinda wanna play someone who resembles me in some fashion.” When the subject of pay equity between men and women came up, Spencer agreed wholeheartedly:
“We were dropping F-bombs and getting it all out there. And then I said, ‘But here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women. So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table.’ And I told her my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of color.”
At this point, Spencer began to get choked up, but clarified why she was getting emotional. “I love that woman, because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk. She said, ‘Octavia, we’re gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. We’re gonna be favored nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing.’ Fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”
The untitled holiday comedy will be produced by Chastain with her company Freckle Films. “We’re just sitting there sipping coffee, going, ‘Oh my god! Women are in demand,’” said Spencer.