By Joshua Brown
Conversations about bridging the pay gap have been flooding politics and corporate America, and now they’ve been taken to Hollywood.
Now, I know this won’t likely extract tears reading about a Hollywood actress’s pay struggle, as the majority of us don’t make millions at our jobs or careers. Even Jennifer Lawrence herself alludes to the fact that it may not be relatable in her open letter she says, “It’s hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren’t exactly relatable. When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with d***s, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator.”
She penned a very honest, but funny, letter tackling income inequality and treatment of women in Hollywood. Immediately, she had other female actresses like Emma Watson and Jessica Chastain jump on board. This sparked the conversation that other actors and studio heads are now being asked to weigh in on.
One of those actors was Bradley Cooper, who co-starred with Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle; the duo will also be seen again together in upcoming film, Joy, later this year. Although in Lawrence’s letter, she states she is worried about coming off as “spoiled,” Cooper thought her letter was “fantastic” and he fully supports all her efforts.
In a talk with Reuters, Cooper applauds the efforts of Lawrence, and questions “would people listen if another woman said it?” There are quite a few other women saying it but what would it hurt to keep the dialogue going across all mediums?
Even though you may have an inclination to not exactly empathize with the “Hollywood scale” perhaps you can empathize with the struggle in general. The fact remains that gender inequality permeates all career paths to some degree and having another woman in the average woman’s corner rallying for equality is a good thing.
Cooper went on to speak about his disappointment to the fact that his other American Hustle co-star, Amy Adams was also paid considerably less amounts than her male equivalents. Cooper stated, “She worked everyday on that movie and got paid nothing. It's really horrible actually, it's almost embarrassing." Adams’s hard work also landed her a Best Actress nomination, but evidently her lesser salary didn’t reflect that appropriately.
Cooper is not standing by and simply applauding efforts, instead he is ready to take action, even if they technically aren’t in his job description. He eagerly declared that from now on, before any film he is interested in being a part of goes to production, he will partner up with his female co-stars to negotiate equal salaries. He mentions that although he doesn’t know “where it’s changing otherwise,” the step he’s taking is still something he can do. Now THAT is a step in the right direction.
Cooper also makes a powerful statement, saying “usually you don’t talk about the financial stuff, you have people. But you know what? Its time to start doing that.” The people he is referring to are agents and managers who’s job it is to get you the best deals, but Cooper’s statements suggest that maybe they aren’t doing the best job, and that it’s possibly time to take matters into his own hands.
He offers an interesting perspective considering most people were extremely quick to attack big studio heads for not paying the actors the same amount. When alerted of the controversy, Sony co-chair Amy Pascal countered by saying, "I run a business. People want to work for less money, I'll pay them less money." So perhaps the problem also lies with managers and agencies who are in charge of negotiating contracts. Wherever this problem stems from, Bradley Cooper is stepping up to the plate to make real change. Lets hope other male actors will follow his lead, no pun intended. As if women weren’t already swooning over him enough as it were. Tip of the hat to you, sir. A true lady’s man, Mr. Cooper.