If you didn’t love Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer‘s friendship before, you will now. Octavia Spencer just shared a heartwarming story of how Jessica stood up for her in Hollywood. The topic of pay equality once came up between the two actresses in early 2017, where they not only discussed how it was time for women to make as much as men, but also that women of color make much less on average compared to white women. Octavia and Jessica have been good friends ever since they starred in The Help together in 2012, and it was after this talk that Jessica realized just how much things needed to change.
In March 2017, Jessica contacted Octavia to talk about a comedy project that they were both interested in being a part of. However, they circled back to the conversation about the average pay gap for non-white people, and sure enough — it turned out Jessica was making way more than Octavia was. But instead of leaving Octavia to deal with it on her own, Jessica decided to fight for pay equality on her friend’s behalf.
At that time, Octavia Spencer had already been nominated for two Academy Awards, and just this week she was nominated for her third. During the Sundance Film Festival, Octavia gave a brief overview of the conversation between her and Jessica, saying, “She was like, ‘It’s time that women get paid the same as men!’And I’m like, ‘Yeah, Jessica! It’s time!’ And we were dropping f-bombs and getting it all out there. And then I said, ‘But here’s the thing: women of color on that [pay] spectrum, we make far less than white women, so if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity we’ve got to bring the women of color to the table.” So true!
Jessica suggested that they tie their negotiations together so they could both get a better deal. Octavia revealed Jessica’s idea, “She said, ‘Octavia, we’re gonna get you paid on this film … You and I are gonna be tied together, we’re gonna be Favored Nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing and you’re gonna make that amount,’ and fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”
Octavia praised Jessica for talking the talk and walking the walk, something a lot of other celebrities are criticized for not doing. Because while the gender pay gap may be getting exposed in Hollywood these days, the fact that people of color make less than white people do is something that’s still kept somewhat of a secret. And if we’re fighting for women, we need to fight for all women.
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 22, 2018
Since the story broke, Jessica Chastain shared on Twitter, “She had been underpaid for so long. When I discovered that, I realized that I could tie her deal to mine to bring up her quote. Men should start doing this with their female costars.” How incredible is that to see friends sticking together and women standing with women? Take note, people!