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Jennifer Lawrence Pens Essay About Pay Disparity

October 17, 2015

Jennifer Lawrence, famous for both her talent and candor, recently authored an essay entitled Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?  for Lena Dunham’s Lenny newsletter that has many people talking. With her distinct voice she expressed her reaction to the Sony hack which publicized that she as well as her American Hustle co-star Amy Adams were making less than their male counterparts Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale. Upon discovering the pay discrepancy, Lawrence wrote that her anger was not directed at Sony but instead, “I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”

Shortly before American Hustle, Jennifer indeed had a box-office smash with X-Men: First Class, and starred as Katniss Everdeen in two Hunger Games films which established her as the highest-grossing action heroine as of 2015. She also went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in the blockbuster Silver Linings Playbook. With this extraordinary career momentum, she was clearly in a position of power. But Lawrence now admits that she dropped the negotiating ball for additional reasons as well. “But if I’m being honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a fight. I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled'” She likens this struggle to what other women in general experience, asking if females are “socially conditioned to behave this way?” –that is, in a way that tries not to “offend or scare” men. In contrast, she points out Bale and Cooper negotiated from a place of power, but wonders if their hard lines were seen as “fierce and tactical” largely because they are male.

Lawrence declared, “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! F— that. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard.” 

The Sony hack proved to be eye opening for actors across the board. For instance, when the pay discrepancy was unearthed, Charlize Theron fought to receive equal pay as her male co-star Chris Hemsworth in The Huntsman. As a result, she pulled in a $10 million paycheck–the same as Hemsworth.

On the other hand, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo actress Rooney Mara told The Guardian that she finds the Hollywood pay disparity “frustrating”, but that she’s “grateful to be getting paid at all.” Elaborating on this, she stated, “I’ve been in films where I’ve found out my male co-star got paid double what I got paid, and it’s just a reality of the time that we live in.” She tries to keep a perspective on the issue by considering how much others are paid for their jobs. “It’s not fair, but I think how much teachers are getting paid, or other people who are doing jobs that are so much more important than what I do, and it’s kind of hard to complain about it.”

Have you ever second guessed yourself, wondering how you’ll be perceived if you ask for what you strongly feel you’re worth? And do you plan to fight harder in future negotiations?