The film industry has always had iconic actresses to admire. From Marilyn Monroe, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts to Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, and the lists goes on. But believe it or not, women are still underrepresented when it comes the time to compare with how men are doing.
The New York Film Academy has made a research about this topic, showing the lack of women working on the industry, on and off screen.
Taking into account the 500 top films from 2007 to 2012, only a 30.8% of speaking characters are women, and 28.8% of them wore sexually revealing clothes, as opposed to 7.0% of men. The image below shows another study by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which displays the unbalanced casts in films and series from previous years.
And this is shown on their paychecks. Statistics made by Forbes in 2013 shows a list of the top ten highest paid actresses, which made a collective $181 million. One would say “Wow!”, until you discover the top ten male actors made $465 million. Furthermore, in 2013, Angelina Jolie, the highest paid female actor, made $33 million, roughly the same amount as the two lowest-ranked men.
In the 12 months to June 15, Jennifer Lawrence, the world’s highest-paid actress at that time, made $52 million, compared to the $80 million Robert Downey Jr. made as the top-paid actor.
As this continues to happen, certain actresses – and actors too- are starting to address this subject. Lawrence being one of them, when she found out with Wikileaks in October 2015 that her and her female coworker from the movie American Hustle, Amy Adams, were being paid much less than their male coworkers Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner, she talked about this pay gap saying “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony,” she wrote. “I got mad at myself…I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early”.
Sharon Stone said revealed that “After Basic Instinct, no one wanted to pay me. I remember sitting in my kitchen with my manager and just crying and saying I’m not going to work until I get paid. I still got paid so much less than any men.’ She added that equal pay, ‘has to start with regular pay, not just for movie stars, but regular pay for the regular woman in the regular job”. Ryan Reynolds has also addressed the issue by saying “It’s absolutely something that needs to be addressed. It’s a multi-faceted problem because it’s not just in film it’s in many industries”.
Famous actress Meryl Streep also revealed she has been paid less than her male coworkers, and spoke about the films distribution, something she believes plays an important role in the matter : “We have to be made equal. I will say that it [the pay gap] has to do with the distribution of films and how films are financed. The top ten buyers in the United States for films – for every territory – there is not one woman. Men and women have different tastes sometimes but if the people that are choosing what goes out into the multiplexes are all of one persuasion, the choice will be limited and then that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, you see?’
There is no doubt Hollywood has a long way to go in reducing – and let’s hope erasing- this gender gap the film industry, as so many other industries, has. As Reese Witherspoon said at the American Cinematheque Awards in 2015 “Women make up 50% of the population, and we should be playing 50% of the roles on the screen”. Lets add “behind the cameras” too!
Sources: New York Film Academy, Marie Claire , Forbes Magazine, USC Annenberg.