Jessica Chastain shares how she helped Octavia Spencer get equal pay

Jeremy Belanger
Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

Jessica Chastain visited Today, and the actress, who’s been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, shared how she helped Octavia Spencer get the pay she deserves.

“Of course, I knew that women of color got paid less. Of course, I knew that. I just assumed, which is the dangerous thing, I assumed a woman like Octavia Spencer would be compensated fairly for the work she’s done and for the awards she’s received,” Chastain told host Hoda Kotb.

Before production on a film the two will star in, they discussed the unequal pay female actresses receive. Spencer, an Academy Award-winning actress, helped show the especially unequal pay for women of color by revealing her expected pay for the film. “When she told me what her salary had been, that’s what shocked me,” Chastain said.

In January, Spencer spoke at a panel at the Sundance Film Festival. She fought back “happy tears” as she recounted Chastain’s reaction. The two banded together and demanded equal pay. Spencer was happy to announce that she received a shocking five times her asking salary.

On Today, Chastain shared that she’s going further by producing and starring in a film, 355, that circumvents the traditional Hollywood system to make things more equal for women of color and other women. Along with co-stars Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, and Fan Bingbing, she will share ownership of the film. As Chastain said, “We’re the studio.”

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