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16 Celebrities Who Spoke Out About Equal Pay in 2016

Elizabeth Trompeter on December 14, 2016 03:27 PM

The issue of equal pay has been at the forefront of major news and media this year. A growing list of companies – including – have signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge. And, of course, there has been no shortage of celebrity advocates for the cause.

We all read J.Law in Lenny Letter last year discussing how she found out through the Sony hack how much less she was getting paid than her male co-stars. But who spoke out in 2016?

Here is a roundup of some of my favorite celebs talking fair pay:

  1. William H. Macy
    Actress Emmy Rossum was in the news just this week for seeking salary parity with her “Shameless” co-star, but it’s Macy who delivered the most memorable lines about equal pay. “It’s about [expletive] time; don’t you think?” Macy said in an interview with TMZ. “She works as hard as I do, she deserves everything.”

  2. Felicity Jones
    Jones is reportedly getting paid twice as much as her male co-stars in the new Star Wars movie, “Rogue One.” “I want to be paid fairly for the work that I’m doing. That’s what every single woman around the world wants,” Jones said in an interview. “We want to be paid on parity with a man in a similar position. And I think it’s important to talk about it.”

  1. Serena Williams
    Serena Williams wrote an open letter on the subject of equality earlier this year. It included this quote: “So when the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts. I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you.”

  1. Emma Stone

  2. Kate McKinnon

  3. Jennifer Anniston
    All three participated in an SNL skit on the subject of women in the entertainment industry. Kate McKinnon played Debette, an old time movie actress. When it came to equal pay, Debette's thinking hadn't evolved much since her time on screen: women, she said, are just lying on train tracks waiting to get run over while men put in the "real" work. She added that women in her day were so objectified that they were actually part of the props department. "When I wasn't filming I had to sit on a little table next to a piece of masking tape that said 'woman,'" she explained.

  1. Jessica Chastain
    Speaking to The Guardian, Jessica was all about demanding the wages you think you deserve, and that you shouldn't accept less just because you think you're lucky to get a certain role: “[Former Sony exec] Amy Pascal said actresses need to stop being grateful. So I’m testing that out! There have been situations where I have lost movies because I’ve said, this is not a fair deal, and I’ve walked away.”

  2. Viola Davis
    Viola Davis said in an interview with Mashable, “I’m sorry, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should be paid the same amount of money. She just should. That’s just the way the world should work. What are you telling your daughter when she grows up? ‘You've got to just understand that you’re a girl. You have a vagina, so that’s not as valuable.’ What are you telling her?”

  3. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
    The U.S. Women’s soccer team is suing for equal pay. “When I joined four teammates in filing a wage-discrimination complaint against U.S. Soccer late last month, it had nothing to do with how much I love to play for my country,” the midfielder and 2015 FIFA Player of the Year Carli Lloyd wrote. “It had everything to do with what’s right and what’s fair, and with upholding a fundamental American concept: equal pay for equal play. Even if you are female.”

  4. Beyoncé
    Beyoncé said we should demand better for our daughters. “Ask anyone, man or woman, ‘Do you want your daughter to have 75 cents when she deserves $1?’ What do you think the answer would be?” she told ELLE. “When we talk about equal rights, there are issues that face women disproportionately... If your son can do it, your daughter should be able to. Some of the things that we teach our daughters — allowing them to express their emotions, their pain and vulnerability — we need to allow and support our men and boys to do as well.”

  5. Emma Watson
    Emma Watson is one of the biggest celebrity advocates for women’s rights, including equal pay. “Hollywood is just a small piece of a gigantic puzzle but it’s in the spotlight,” she said. “Whether you are a woman on a tea plantation in Kenya, or a stockbroker on Wall Street, or a Hollywood actress, no one is being paid equally.”

  6. Lin-Manuel Miranda
    The man who made Alexander Hamilton relevant again freestyled about Equal Pay in an interview with Emma Watson for #HeforShe on Women’s Equality Day. Rapped Miranda: “Yo it’s Lin and I have to laugh. How can we not be equal, we’re like half? Like women are like half of the people on Earth and, yes, they should have been equal since birth. That means all day, every day, Equal Pay.”

  7. Robin Wright
    Robin Wright made headlines for proving why she should get paid equally to her House of Cards co-star Kevin Spacey. “It was a perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in ‘House of Cards,’” said Wright. “I was looking at statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on that moment. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public,’” Wright said with her trademark blinding-white grin. “And they did.”

  8. Jessica Alba
    "Women don't get equal pay," says Jessica. "There are not as many women in government positions or business positions. It's just not equal. And until there is equality, you're going to feel that, in any industry. But I was like, girls should have an equal seat at the table. Take Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, she's opening films – she's the box-office draw just as much as any guy, if not more. She should be compensated for that."

  9. Patricia Arquette
    Appeared on MSNBC, telling Andrea Mitchell, “Women have been fighting for equal rights for 227 years and at this point now we’ve reached a breaking point because women are contributing to 40 percent of our American families.” She went on, “We see this pay discrepancy between women and men in 98 percent of all industries. [It] costs the average woman almost a half million dollars over her lifetime… and with women with higher education, it costs them $2 million over their lifetime.”

  10. President Obama
    President Obama has been a huge advocate for women’s rights during his time as president, and that includes fighting for equal pay. During a speech this year, President Obama said, “I’m here to say we will close the wage gap,” and pointed out, “Improving gender equality would add at least $2.1 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product by 2025.”

 With countless celebs and business leaders backing this very important issue, we can hope awareness and action continues to push gender parity forward in 2017.

Here's what had to say when the company was among the first employers to sign the White House Equal Pay Pledge in June 2016: is committed to ensuring equal pay for like work and work of equal value among all employees. Beyond the obvious and legitimate reasons of fairness and equality, we believe that a company committed to gender equality will more effectively attract and retain top talent, which in turn yields greater business productivity. recognizes the importance of, and is committed to, providing a fair and objective pay system which is free from gender bias.  

And here's what’s leadership had to say on Equal Pay Day in April 2016.