When the California Women’s Policy Summit convened in Sacramento on Wednesday, among the items up for discussion were economic empowerment and women in the workplace.
Timely issues, certainly, and ones that affect everyone from minimum-wage slaves to Hollywood actresses. Just ask Charlize Theron.
One of the many gossipy tidbits that came out of the Sony hack last month, most likely at the behest of North Korea officials upset with release of the “The Interview,” was exposure of gross gender pay disparity. In an email to Sony executive Amy Pascal, for example, it was revealed that the two female stars of the movie “American Hustle” were being paid less than the two male stars.
Thanks also to the emails, Theron, a Hollywood vet and A-list actress who won an Oscar for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wournos in the 2003 film “Monster,” discovered she was getting a raw deal for her work in the upcoming “The Huntsman.”
According to the New York Post’s Page Six, her costar Chris Hemsworth was being paid more than her, despite the fact his career is shorter and less critically acclaimed. Hemsworth, an Australian television actor whose Hollywood career highlight is playing Thor in various comic-book film adaptations, is probably less recognizable than his actor brother, Liam, who starred in “The Hunger Games” franchise. Maybe that’s what Theron pointed out when she demanded – and got – the same $10 million deal as Hemsworth.
We’re not going to shed tears for people whose pay comes in million-dollar increments, but we can’t help but applaud Theron for standing up to what seems to be chronic inequity in one of California’s most important industries.
Besides, like it or not, movie stars are role models for the rest of us. So when one actress stands up to unfairness in the workplace in this male-dominated business, it makes it all the more likely that women everywhere will believe they can stand up, too.