Emma Stone's Powerful Point About Equal Pay For Women In Hollywood Is One We Can All Learn From
When it comes to equal treatment for women, we've made huge strides, but it's important to also remember what a long way we have to go. We're headed in the right direction, but it's easy to slip back into old habits. Nowhere is that more evident than when Emma Stone spoke to Vogue about equal pay for women as it relates to her upcoming film Battle of the Sexes, co-starring Steve Carrell. Although her words were powerful, she had to choose them carefully — and even correct herself at one point to make sure she got her intention across.
The film is about a famous match between female tennis star Billie Jean King, played by Stone, and male tennis star Bobby Riggs in 1973, which King agreed to play in order to prove that female athletes deserved to be treated and compensated at the same level as male athletes. So, obviously, it has a lot in common with our 2016 conversations about the gender wage gap in Hollywood.
Stone was asked by the Vogue interviewer about her experience, and responded, "I’ve been lucky enough to have equal pay to my male costars. Not ‘lucky' — I’ve had pay equal to my male costars in the past few films." It might seem like a small slip of the tongue, but it's incredibly important that Stone corrected herself. By removing the word "lucky," she makes it clear that she knows that receiving equal pay is not some sort of privilege. It's a right as a human being. Women have just been conditioned to think and feel otherwise, because, unfortunately, that kind of gender equality in wages is not yet universal.
But what I love about Stone's interview is that she's completely candid about all aspects of this issue. She knows that she deserves equal pay, while also acknowledging how difficult it is to ask for it. She continues:
But our industry ebbs and flows in a way that’s like, ‘How much are you bringing into the box office?’ ‘How much are you the draw or is the other person the draw?' I felt uncomfortable talking to my agent or lawyer about it because I was like, ‘Do people want to see me as much as they want to see Steve Carrell?’ It’s a weird conversation to have because it’s trying to see oneself from the outside.
This is such a beneficial thing for Stone to admit, because it's something I'm sure many of us have encountered in our own lives. The first few times that you assess your own value as a worker are bound to be uncomfortable, because it's a new field of experience. Asking for what you want is always awkward, when you're used to taking what you're given, but Stone has a powerful tool at her disposal that we can all learn from: self-awareness.
In these quotes, she proves that she understands the business side of the industry without explicitly buying into it; she grasps her bargaining potential without getting her ego tied up in it, which is the exact line that I aim to walk. And to be honest, I don't always get the balance right. But, hey, neither does Emma Stone apparently. And that's incredibly reassuring and important.