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Natalie Portman Speaks Out Against the Gender Pay Gap

It seemed like 2016 was the year that you saw Natalie Portman in movie trailers every three seconds. She is starring in the emotional drama Jackie, about the last days of the Kennedy presidency, in the western Jane Got a Gun, and the drama Planetarium, all released last year. Now, it appears that 2017 will be the year the Oscar winner starts speaking out about the gender pay gap. But, it isn’t the first year the problem affected her personally.
Natalie Portman
Image Credit: Georges Biard/Wikimedia Commons

Rom-Com Star Loses Out on Big Bucks

In 2011, Portman starred alongside Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached. You might not recall it, but it was there, and it’ll probably turn up on your streaming movie offerings sometime when you have an afternoon to kill. But what Portman recently disclosed to Marie Claire UK was that she was paid only a third of the amount that Kutcher earned.

She remarked: “I knew and I went along with it because there’s this thing with ‘quotes’ in Hollywood. His was three times higher than mine, so they said he should get three times more.”

But isn’t Portman the bigger star, or at least, wasn’t it indicated that she was the bigger draw? Entertainment Weekly points out that her name appears before Kutcher’s on the theatrical poster and in the trailer.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Hire Portman, She’s a Bargain!

Dorothy Pomerantz at Forbes wrote an article in 2012 talking about which movie stars were the best “bang for their buck” for studios, and Portman came out at the top of the list.

That little rom-com you may not remember? It killed at the box office, earning $150 million globally on a tiny $25 million budget. Basically, Pomerantz’ argument boils down to the fact that since studios can offer women, like Portman, far less money for their work, and the women are (shock) great actors who bring lots of people to the movies (even for silly rom-coms), they can make a lot of profit off of them. Great for studios, not so great for the female actresses getting scammed out of a fair wage.

Even When the Pay Is Big, Equality Still Matters

Portman admits to Marie Claire that she was not sure how to talk about the wage equality issue because her paycheck, by comparison to the average Joe’s (or Jane’s) was quite large. That’s a real point to discuss here. If someone is already making a lot of money, does it matter when they’re not making a “fair” amount of big money? And the answer is yes, of course it does. Portman even admitted as much.

“I wasn’t as pissed as I should have been. I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy,” she said.

What Happens After a Big Award?

As we get into awards season, Portman will become even more visible. She’s being whispered about for Oscar contention for Jackie, and has remarked that in the light of a Trump presidency, she’s energized to speak out more. I’d expect this isn’t the last we’ll hear about the gender pay gap in Hollywood from Portman, as well as others. In case you don’t remember, Portman is already an Oscar winner, having won Best Actress for Black Swan in 2010, a year before she did No Strings Attached.

Read all about the gender pay gap in PayScale’s in-depth analysis.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think women should earn the same as men doing the same job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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