Octavia Spencer Says Jessica Chastain Helped Her Make Five Times Her Asking Salary
"I love that woman, because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk," Spencer said on a panel at the Sundance Film Festival.
Jessica Chastain has long spoken up about equal pay for women in the film industry — and according to Octavia Spencer, her co-star in an upcoming comedy, she's "walking the walk" by helping other women close the wage gap, too.
During the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's "Women Breaking Barriers" panel Wednesday at the Sundance Film Festival featuring Spencer, Tina Lifford, Reed Morano, Sandra Oh and Cathy Schulman, Spencer told attendees she had a "story" to relate to the audience for the first time about her former co-star on 2011's The Help and future co-star in an upcoming comedy for Universal.
Spencer said Chastain approached her about working on a comedy together about 15 months ago and that the idea made sense to both because Chastain had wanted to do a comedy and Spencer wanted to "break out of period pieces."
About six months later, Spencer said, they were talking together about pay equity. "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,’" she told attendees. "And I told her my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of color.”
Added Spencer, while choking down tears: “I love that woman, because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk. [Chastain] said, ‘Octavia, we’re gonna get you paid on this film."
Continued Spencer: "She said, 'You and I are gonna be tied together. We’re gonna be favored nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing, you are going to make that amount.’ Fast-forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”
Watch the full story around the 19:30 mark, below.