The 59-year-old actress gets honest about beauty standards in Hollywood

By Alynda Wheat
April 12, 2015 07:45 PM
Mike Pont/WireImage

With a new memoir coming and a role on a hit TV series, actress Kate Mulgrew isn’t holding back on how tough it’s been for women in Hollywood.

The actress, who plays prison cook Red on Orange Is the New Black and starred as Capt. Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, says it’s “absurd” that women are still fighting for the same pay as men.

“I should’ve been paid every cent [Patrick] Stewart was paid,” Mulgrew told PEOPLE, referring to her counterpart on Star Trek: The Next Generation. “Not to mention the three and a half hours I spent in makeup and hair, and somebody fooling around with my bosoms and somebody fooling around with my shoes.”

Mulgrew’s book, Born With Teeth, fearlessly details her personal struggles, including giving up a daughter for adoption, as well as her decades-long career as a performer.

“I’ll be 60 this month [on April 29],” Mulgrew tells PEOPLE. “For most of my life I was very pretty and played the heroine. You re really boxed in when you re pretty. They don t see anything else.”

The actress also talked about beauty standards in Hollywood to the Los Angeles Times.

I think the day is coming where we will be wanted; not just accepted but wanted as the stripped-down, compelling women that we are,” she told the paper. “Without our plastic surgery, without our bulimia, without our makeup and without 8 million men wanting to go to bed with us, we will be charismatic in and of ourselves.

“That is coming now, but it has taken quite a while. Hollywood still does love its beauties, you know. It’s unachievable beauty.”

The actress says her role on Orange Is the New Black came when “I let my vanity go,” acknowledging that fans who remember her as Star Trek‘s Capt. Janeway might not recognize her in the new role.

“What you re saying is, ‘That s Kate Mulgrew? But she used to be pretty, this big, fierce, fat-looking woman who runs the kitchen.’ So that s what I get to be now.”

Not that Mulgrew has any regrets about that.

“I just have such great joy now.”

And why not? Hollywood is finally realizing women’s power.

“I think it’s changing now,” she says. “Because female roles in TV are golden now. This whole game is shifting.”

For more from Mulgrew, pick up the next issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Reporting by MARY GREEN

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