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Causing a stir last month in Lena Dunham’s newsletter, Lenny, Jennifer Lawrence has found herself bombarded with questions on the topic of equal pay as she makes the current publicity rounds for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, in theaters Nov. 20.
“It was more about how my mentality got in my own way of fighting just as hard as the men to get a better deal. Is that because I’m a woman? The only point of view I have is a woman’s point of view,” she told a recent press gathering in Beverly Hills about discovering through the Sony hack that her American Hustle director and male co-stars, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner were earning more than co-star Amy Adams and Lawrence, despite the fact that she was an Oscar winner at the time, and a proven box office draw.
“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself,” she wrote on Lenny. “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need. (I told you it wasn’t relatable, don’t hate me.)”
A December 5, 2013 email discusses backend points for each of the film’s stars, with David O. Russell, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner each getting 9%, while Lawrence and Amy Adams both collected 7%, Lawrence’s up from a previously negotiated 5%.
She doesn’t blame Sony for the disparity, noting, “There definitely wasn’t any foul play involved on Sony’s part. They’re not going to give somebody more money, if they don’t ask for it. There was no foul play from the men or anybody making that movie.”
While the essay seems pretty straight-forward with Lawrence questioning her own self-doubt and lack of negotiating drive, she found herself derided by detractors and numerous conservative websites like Red State, which called the essay “A Bratty Display.” To which Lawrence responded, “If a woman speaks up and is assertive and has a voice, she’s going to be called a brat.”
Unequal pay is an issue in all walks of life, but as highlighted by Oscar winner Patricia Arquette in her acceptance speech earlier this year, it is especially pronounced in Hollywood. It’s a lesson Charlize Theron learned when she found out via the same hack that she’ll make $10 million less than her comparatively inexperienced costar Chris Hemsworth for the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman sequel.
Beyond anecdotal evidence from the Sony hack, recent research by The Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film showed that only 7 percent of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2014 were directed by women, and that women made up only 17 percent of key positions behind the scenes.
“I hoped to just write more about how my own fears of how I was going to be portrayed — or how I would look or how people would judge me — got in my way when obviously the men don’t think that way,” says Lawrence, who credited her defiant Hunger Games character Katniss Everdeen for inspiring her to speak out against the gender pay gap.
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