It’s no secret that much of Hollywood often can prove to be a cutthroat world. Actress Gabrielle Union can attest to that, and has been vocal about one experience where she and others met the ways of the industry head-on.
In 2019, Union participated in a panel hosted by Porter magazine, alongside fellow actors Gina Rodriguez, Ellen Pompeo and Emma Roberts. During the discussion, she emphasized the importance of having a united front against studio producers who attempted to underpay another actor.
The former child star, who has been working on television or film most of her life, said that three other actors joined her in a quest to make sure the first actor was compensated fairly to star in a project.
“There was a job that I thought, you know, a friend had and there was a lowball attempt,” Union shares in the recently revisited clip.
Fighting For Everyone
The producers did not want to pay the “Bring It On” actor’s friend the price she was asking for and decided to call her to do the job.
“That’s my girl,” Union continued. “So I was like, ‘What you turn down?’ I asked for moon, stars, rainbow, over top of that. I have no intention of doing it. I want her to get her money. Like it’s not my job.”
Union said she was clear about the mission and knew that she lost nothing by turning down the project when the producers were trying to play her against her friend.
“It was never my job to begin with but I’m going to make sure she gets paid,” she resolved. It did not stop with Union. The producers would ask other actors to take the role, and committed to the mission, Union and her friend gave the others their marching orders.
“We tell the next person … ’cause we know who the next person on the list is … also a friend … ask for this and then the next person. They go down four people,” she continued, adding that when they realized that time was running short and that all of their options seemed to be parked at the same number, the team “ended up paying her more than what she turned down.”
According to CNBC, the gender pay gap in Hollywood is worse than other industries in America.
Considering a one-year span, from June 1, 2016, to June 1, 2017, the top 10 highest-earning actors collectively made $172.5 million. In contrast, the top 10 highest-earning actors earned over twice that sum, totaling $488.5 million.
MISSING INFO An example relating to one artist in particular, according to The Hollywood Reporter, relates to actress Taraji P. Henson’s Oscar-nominated role in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Henson not only paid in the low-six figures but also had to cover her
This is also a fight that Union has been at the forefront of for years, dating back to when she fought and won her contract dispute with BET over her role in the series “Being Mary Jane.”
“Based on the numbers that I know that Black women, Latinas, Asian women, Indigenous actors are making, there is no other logical reason why we are paid what we are paid versus what our contemporaries are paid who are lacking melanin,” she said, according to CBC.
And until she sees the change in payment, she and her fellow Black actors will continue their subversive efforts to get people paid.
Like she said in the Net-A-Porter interview, by having another Black woman’s back, “none of us lost a thing.”