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‘I love that woman’: How Sacramento’s Jessica Chastain went to bat for fellow actress

Jessica Chastain, right, and Octavia Spencer arrive at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7 in Beverly Hills.
Jessica Chastain, right, and Octavia Spencer arrive at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7 in Beverly Hills. Invision

Octavia Spencer is singing the praises of a Sacramento actress.

Spencer recently spoke on the “Women Breaking Barriers” panel at the Sundance Film Festival hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. She told attendees that she will receive five times her salary for an upcoming film due to co-star Jessica Chastain.

Chastain, who grew up in Sacramento and attended El Camino Fundamental High School and Sacramento City College before graduating from The Juilliard School, also starred with Spencer in “The Help” – a 2011 film that landed Spencer an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

On the panel – moderated by Elisabeth Sereda and featuring Spencer, Tina Lifford, Sandra Oh, Reed Morano and Cathy Schulman – Spencer, 47, told the crowd how Chastain, 40, went to bat for her.

Spencer said Chastain reached out to her 15 months ago about doing a comedy together, which Spencer agreed to.

“She called me maybe six months later, which would have been last March, and we were talking about pay equity with men and women,” Spencer said. “She was like, ‘It’s time that women get paid the same as men.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, Jessica, it’s time!’ ...

“And then I said, ‘But here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women. So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table.’ And I told her my story and we talked numbers and she was quiet and she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of color” before breaking down into what she called “happy tears.”

“I love that woman, because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk,” Spencer said. “She said, ‘Octavia, we’re gonna get you paid on this film.’ ... Fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”

To see Spencer’s segment on Chastain, click to the 19:30 mark on the YouTube video posted above.

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