Lawrence quits being cute, takes on pay gap

Actress Jennifer Lawrence expressed her displeasure at earning way less than her male co-stars in the 2013 movie, American Hustle.
Actress Jennifer Lawrence expressed her displeasure at earning way less than her male co-stars in the 2013 movie, American Hustle. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence says she has had it with trying to be “adorable” when it comes to sexism in Hollywood and equal pay for women.

In a no-holds-barred attack on the Hollywood wage gap on Tuesday, the star of The Hunger Games blockbuster franchise said that in the past, she worried about being labelled a spoilt brat when negotiating movie deals.

But men do not have that problem, she said in an essay for the Lenny newsletter co-founded by Girls writer and director Lena Dunham.

Lawrence, 25, who according to Forbes was the world’s highest-paid film actress last year with an estimated US$52 million (S$72.8 million) in earnings from movies and endorsements, found out through leaked Sony Pictures e-mails last year that she had been paid millions less than any of her three male co-stars in the 2013 movie American Hustle.

“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. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early,” she wrote.

“I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realised every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being difficult or spoilt.”

Lawrence, who won an Academy Award in 2013 for Silver Linings Playbook, added that male colleagues appeared annoyed when she recently shared her opinion about sexism in the industry.

“I’m over trying to find the adorable way to state my opinion and still be likable! Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share,” she wrote.

She also said she found it offensive that one of the Sony e-mails had referred to actress Angelina Jolie as a “spoilt brat”.

“For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man,” Lawrence wrote.

While she may be the biggest Hollywood earner among women – thanks largely to The Hunger Games movies – she came nowhere near the estimated US$80 million payday for Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr, according to Forbes.

Her fierce essay on Tuesday, titled Why Do These Dudes Make More Than Me?, reflects a more combative attitude of Hollywood’s biggest female stars.

Meryl Streep told the BBC last week that she, too, gets paid less than her male co-stars, while Patricia Arquette used her Oscar acceptance speech for Boyhood in February to demand wage equality for all women.

Charlize Theron said in May that she was outraged when leaked Sony e-mails showed a gap in what male and female actors were paid for American Hustle and that she insisted on being paid on a par with her co-star Chris Hemsworth for the Snow White sequel The Huntsman.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2015, with the headline ''. Print Edition | Subscribe