As many black womanist know, it’s not often white feminism uses its privilege in was that benefits the gender as a whole. Yet, according to Octavia Spencer fellow actress Jessica Chastain flipped this notion on its head as Chastain negotiated equal pay for their upcoming holiday comedy.
News of this feat came at Wednesday’s (Jan. 24) “Women Breaking Barriers” panel which was hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press. There, Spencer explained how her The Help co-star approached her 15 months ago about creating a movie together, but when the two began to talk pay equity, Spencer explained to Chastain how difficult it is to negotiate proper pay as a black woman.
“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,” Spencer explained.
After hearing Spencer’s story, Chastain who was shocked by the struggles of women of color vowed to correct this issue for their new film.
“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,’ ” Spencer described.
Once their film was picked up by Universal Studios, Chastain held true to her promise utilizing her position as the movie’s co-writer to secure the two more than five times what they initially asked for.
This accomplishment can be credited to not only Chastain’s persistence but also her willingness to listen. In wake of actress, Michelle Willams, explaining her equal pay plight as well as Black-ish‘s Tracee Ellis Ross detailing the show’s wage discrepancies, the story Spencer told Chastain is one every working woman experiences. Yet unfortunately, – like almost everything in America – it is weighted more on the black woman.
By Jessica Chastain realizing this, she did something that white feminism has historically failed to do. She used her societal privilege to dismantle and an intersectional problem all women face.