Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain have been close friends since working on The Help – and now, Chastain has helped Spencer negotiate five times her initial salary for a new comedy.
They were discussing the film, produced by Chastain, when Spencer revealed she is paid less as a woman of colour.
“Octavia – we’re going to get you paid on this film,” Chastain told her.
She then fixed it so that both women would earn the same. Spencer said of Chastain: “She’s walking the walk.”
She was talking at the Women Breaking Barriers panel at the Sundance Film Festival on Wednesday when she revealed how the project came about – and how the pay conversation came up.
Spencer, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for 2011’s The Help, makes her comments at about 19 minutes and 30 seconds into this clip.
“We’re really good friends and we had a great time working on The Help,” explained Spencer, who’s just been nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for The Shape of Water.
She is the first woman to follow an Oscar win with nominations in two consecutive years.
“She wants to do comedies, and I want to break out of period pieces. I love them, they’ve been good to me, but I want to play someone who resembles me in some fashion.”
They were talking about the importance of pay equity between men and women when Spencer told Chastain: “Here’s the thing. Women of colour on that spectrum, we make far less than white women.
“So if we’re going to have that conversation, we’ve got to bring the women of colour to the table.”