When Sony Pictures was hacked last year, many movie fans learned for the first time that actress Jennifer Lawrence was paid substantially less than her male co-stars in the movie "American Hustle." As it turns out, that was news to the Oscar winner too.
In a personal essay published Tuesday for LennyLetter, a feminism-themed newsletter co-founded by actress Lena Dunham, entitled "Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?" Lawrence speaks candidly about the challenges she faces in Hollywood as a woman, including the gender stereotypes she says impacted her ability to secure equal pay.
"It's hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren't exactly relateable. When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with d----, I didn't get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself," Lawrence wrote.
"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. (I told you it wasn't relatable, don't hate me)," she added. Lawrence also writes that she didn't push harder on getting paid her fair share because she didn't want to be perceived as "difficult" or "spoiled."
Lawrence is actually Hollywood's highest paid woman, according to Forbes. In the last year alone, she earned $52 million, but that is still $30 million below Hollywood's highest paid male actor, Robert Downey, Jr. In fact, besides Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson, the top 10 earners in the movie business are all men.
Of course, the wage disparity between men and women is a factor in every professional sector of American life. But in Hollywood, which has a reputation for liberal politics and progressive social values, some may be surprised by how pervasive the salary gap is.
Actress Patricia Arquette raised the issue earlier this year during her well-received Academy Awards acceptance speech (she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Boyhood").
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” Arquette said to rapturous applause from the Oscar crowd.
Lawrence, as one of the most sought-after and bankable stars in Hollywood, has a huge platform to bring attention to Hollywood's preference for paying men more. Only time will tell if she can have an impact on the industry's bottom line.
One thing is for certain: Lawrence is done playing nice. "I'm over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable!" she wrote. "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."