Melissa McCarthy has some pretty strong words for people dealing with pay disparity in Hollywood.
The 47-year-old actress appears on the May cover of Glamour where she opens up about the moment she first realized she started making less money than her costars on movies.
“There were some jobs when I was paid what most [of my costars were]. And then people who climbed the ladder with me were suddenly making 15 times what I made,” the Life of the Party star recalls. “I was like, ‘Wait, wait, wait.’ I thought, ‘This is based on bullshit. This not based on anything factual to me.’ I hated that feeling of not being in control and not being able to do anything about it. I think that feeling is what keeps the fight in me.”
McCarthy has become a leading force in Hollywood following her breakthrough role in Bridesmaids, which earned her an Oscar nomination, and a string of hit comedies. After becoming successful, she quickly realized she had to learn how to stand up for herself.
“I think you have to play. It’s like this: You can stay in a local theater and work for the art of it, and that’s great. Or you can say, ‘I can make this my business.’ And if you want to do your business well, you’d better learn how to handle those negotiations, how and when to push, and when to lay off.”
She continued, “Having a say in something means as much to me as getting a fair price. I never want to lose my voice.”
Now, McCarthy passes her wisdom along to costars who may be struggling with negotiating for more.
“I give pretty strong advice to costars, like, ‘Dig in deep and don’t sell yourself short.’ And, ‘Don’t confuse someone working for you with them doing you a favor.’ You show up and do your job; it should be the same with agents, managers, the tax guy. Jennifer Coolidge…taught me, ‘The second they stop working for you, fire them.’
She continued. “Don’t think, I don’t want to be a b—-, I don’t want to cause trouble. If you paid for a bottle of water and then that person told you to just take off, you’d say, ‘Give me my water. I paid for it.’”
Life of the Party hits theaters May 11.