Actress Michelle Williams pushes for pay equality

 Actress Michelle Williams speaks at an event to celebrate the Paycheck Fairness Act on Equal Pay Day in the Rayburn Room of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 2, 2019.
Actress Michelle Williams speaks at an event to celebrate the Paycheck Fairness Act on Equal Pay Day in the Rayburn Room of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 2, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • Hollywood actress Michelle Williams went to the United States Congress on Tuesday appealing for a vote on a law to close the gender pay gap, recalling how she was once paid dramatically less than a male colleague for similar work.

Nominated for four Academy Awards during her career, the star of Manchester By The Sea (2016) and Brokeback Mountain (2005) learnt that while she earned US$1,000 (S$1,353) in 2017 to reshoot scenes for the film All The Money In The World, her male co-star Mark Wahlberg received US$1.5 million "for the exact same amount of work".

The reshoots on the Ridley Scott film were done to remove appearances by Kevin Spacey, who had played a leading role and recently had been charged with sexual assault.

"If it was like this for me, a white woman in a glamorised industry, how were my sisters suffering across their profession?" the 38-year-old actress said.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives last week passed the Paycheck Fairness Act aimed at ending gender-based pay discrimination, still a problem decades after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 passed into law.

No date has been set for a vote in the US Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

"The ball's now in the Senate court," Williams said. "This is the next critical moment, please don't let it pass by."

 

The Williams/Wahlberg pay discrepancy made headlines in the US when actress Jessica Chastain revealed it on social media and it gained traction amid the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Following the backlash, Wahlberg donated his US$1.5 million earnings to a charity that addresses inequality and injustice in the workplace.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2019, with the headline 'Actress Michelle Williams pushes for pay equality'. Print Edition | Subscribe