Jessica Chastain's Advice For Negotiating Equal Pay Is Major

by Allie Gemmill
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I make it a general rule in my life to not let others tell me what to do when it comes to my money; however, Variety 's interview with Jessica Chastain on negotiating for equal pay in a renewed era of feminist progressiveness makes her sound like the wondrous and ferocious businesswoman I could only hope to become in my adult years. More so than any finance news show or your dad sitting at the dining room table, I think Chastain's words of wisdom on how she fights for a fair salary in Hollywood are what women should listen to in order to feel empowered to negotiate their salaries where they want them.

Step one to securing equal pay like Chastain: Don't be afraid to walk away from a job that will not give you what you are due. "I’m not taking jobs anymore where I’m getting paid a quarter of what the male co-star is being paid. I’m not allowing that in my life," Chastain told Variety. While that statement seems to imply that this situation — getting paid a quarter of what the men get paid — occurs more often than not for Chastain, it's interesting that she appears comfortable enough in her career to even turn down films. I don't mean to say it's not justified; Chastain's body of work speaks volumes about the quality of performance she is capable of when the occasion calls for it. Her work, in my opinion, demands good pay. The fact that she is comfortable enough to actually follow through on that is so empowering.

In the interview, Chastain also gives women a crucial second step to follow: stop being grateful for whatever you're being paid, find out what the men are being paid, and see if you can't fight to get on the same level as them (so long as the workload is equivalent):

Women need to step forward and demand they’re fairly compensated for their work. [...] What I do now, when I’m taking on a film, I always ask about the fairness of the pay. I ask what they’re offering me in comparison to the guy. I don’t care about how much I get paid; I’m in an industry where we’re overcompensated for the work we do. But I don’t want to be on a set where I’m doing the same work as someone else and they’re getting five times what I’m getting.

This sounds scary, I'll admit. But there is something so deeply great and powerful and admirable about Chastain's confidence here. This is a woman who is fearless when it comes to talking about money. It's a lesson we could all take with us into the workplace if we aren't doing so already.

Now listen, I know that negotiating a big, Hollywood-level salary may not feel the same as negotiating your salary, but I think the most important takeaway (apart from feeling bolstered by Chastain's take-no-crap attitude) is that if you can find a way to negotiate, do it. Don't wait. Don't take what you feel is less than your worth. Don't be afraid to say "no" if you have the ability to do so.

Basically, channel your inner Chastain and you may level-up in the arena of salary negotiations.