When navigating an industry known for lowballing women, especially Black women, it is important to stand firm on your worth.
For Oscar award-winning actress Octavia Spencer, declining initial offers is one tactic she uses when it comes to negotiating her payment for projects.
“I always get a raise,” she said during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “You should always get more money than what they’re offering you.”
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Spencer, whose start in the industry included working as an intern on a Whoopi Goldberg film, has never shied away from bringing attention to the alarming pay gap in Hollywood when it comes to women.
In 2018, she recalled collaborating with fellow actress Jessica Chastain to ensure that they both made the same salary on a project they’d been tapped for.
“If we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of the color to the table,” Spencer said, according to a BBC.
In a 2023 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she doubled down on that stance once again.
“Women and women of color have always lagged. When they start casting movies, they put all the money on the white male or Black male leads. They come to you when they’ve given out all the dollars and they only have cents.”
How They Did It
After talking with Chastain — her co-star from “The Help” — about the stark difference between their pay, Spencer says that Chastain immediately jumped into action to devise a plan to demand a change.
“I love that woman, because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk,” Spencer emotionally recalled during the 2018 interview with BBC News. “She said: ‘You and I are going to be tied together. We’re going to be favoured nations and we’re going to 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.”
Black Women In Hollywood
As previously reported by AfroTech, Spencer is not the first actress to band together with her fellow colleagues to ensure that fair payment is achieved.
Gabrielle Union once completely shut down an offer to make sure that a close friend was paid her worth.
While Spencer has vocalized the continued fight to equal pay for women who are already working tirelessly for an opportunity, she is also building quite the table for herself and others through her production company.
ORIT Entertainment — which has nine scripted projects, as of this writing, in different stages of development — was launched by Spencer in 2019.
Since then, the company has inked production deals with ID, Discovery+, October Films, and more.