The wage gap has always been a pretty pressing concern for feminists, but between Patricia Arquette’s passionate speech at the Oscars back in February and Jennifer Lawrence’s recent personal essay about getting paid less than her male co-stars in “American Hustle,” lately the discussion has been taken Hollywood by storm. Seriously, everyone from Bradley Cooper to Emma Watson have spoken out about giving women the pay they deserve.
Rosario Dawson has plenty to say about the inequality she's seen in her own career, too, but for her the problem of wage equality doesn’t stop at gender -- as she told MTV News over the phone last week while promoting the release of “Call Of Duty Black Ops III," there are a lot of non-famous actors and crew members who work tirelessly to make the entertainment we consume, and who aren't paid their due either.
“I’ve worked on a lot of projects where the male lead or even the male and the female lead will get paid millions of dollars and then everyone else gets SAG minimum payment," she said. “You’re privileged to work with this director and these actors, but it’s a Catch-22. You need to make money so you need to have work, and to be able to get work you have to get to a place where your name means something and you make these sacrifices -- like, ‘OK, I’ll do this for nothing, but hopefully the movie will do well and it will help me out later.' So even talking about equity, there’s a lot that comes in between it. “
Dawson, who herself is of mixed-race Latina descent, also brought up that we can’t let intersectionality fall by the wayside in these discussions. “If it was just women getting paid less than men then that would just be one thing, but even among women, especially according to race and privilege, there are a lot of women who are getting paid more than even some men are,” she noted. “It’s a very complex situation when you think about what are black women making in comparison to white women, what are Latin women making, what are Asian women making in comparison, and it gets even more convoluted."
That problem doesn't just affect Hollywood, either. You’ve probably heard the oft-quoted statistic that women make 77 cents to the dollar compared to their male counterparts, but that’s just for non-Hispanic white women -- when you break it down by race, African American women make 64 percent of what white men make in the same field, and Hispanic and Latina women make even less at 54% (Asian American women actually make 90% as much as white men do, but only 79% as much compared to Asian American men).
But Dawson doesn’t begrudge the people who aren't as nuanced in the way they discuss the wage gap -- rather, she’s glad that we’re even talking about it in the first place, and that it’s found such engaging and powerful celebrity advocates who might be able to elevate the discussion further.
“I’m glad that this conversation is being brought up in such a popular, fresh and strong way,” she said. “I think that’s the way it’s going to make people really think about what it means for families and generations when people aren’t getting fairly paid for their services. Male, female, young or old, when people aren’t properly being paid for the job, what that does for their children and their access and opportunities… it just builds up. Generationally we’re impacting people and I hope that that changes.“