Viola Davis Opens Up About Feeling Underpaid: 'Pay Me What I'm Worth'
For all of Viola Davis' prowess on the screen, the multi-awarded actress reveals she's still getting the short end of the stick in Hollywood.
The How to Get Away With Murder actress, who has won the Tony, Golden Globes, Emmy, and Oscars, spoke at the Women in the World Los Angeles Salon on Tuesday. In her speech, Davis talked about the salary and opportunity inequalities even among the women in the entertainment industry.
On Disparity Among Actresses
The Juilliard graduate stressed the challenges of being a woman of color in Hollywood by comparing her career to other accomplished actress and revealing that she doesn't get paid as much as them.
"I have a career that's probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver," Davis states. "They all came out of Yale, they came out of Juilliard, they came out of NYU. They had the same path as me, and yet, I am nowhere near them - not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities, nowhere close to it."
Due to her skin color, the actress explains, she had to go through her career underpaid. She points out that she only gets about one tenth of a Caucasian women's paycheck, which is in turn merely half of what a man in Hollywood is paid.
At 52, Davis is now done with fighting tooth and nail to prove her worth in the industry.
"I'm no longer doing that," she promises. "I'm not hustling for my worth. I'm worthy."
She encourages younger people with color to do the same, saying they have to avoid settling for less than their worth. In an example, she explained how talented Caucasian actresses such as Shailene Woodley will get recognized with a slew of magazine covers, while an equally talented actress with a different skin color will get much less.
"There is sense in our culture that you have to be happy with that," Davis says.
On Sexual Assault
Aside from slamming the prejudice against woman of color in Hollywood, Davis also weighs in on sexual assault saying that she's been exposed to a number of inappropriate behavior from exposure to unwanted touching at parties.
The actress also points out how important it is to remember that it's not just women in Hollywood suffering from harassment.
"When the predator is a father, a stranger, a rabbi, a teacher, you know, you can go on, a brother, a babysitter, and the silence is not just about saving one's career, the silence is about the trauma that when it happens you have an out-of-body experience where you leave your body and you compartmentalize that pain," Davis explains.