Octavia Spencer: Jessica Chastain Helped Me Get 5 Times My Asking Salary for Our New Movie
Talk about girl power!
The two actresses, who costarred in the 2011 movie The Help, are reuniting in an upcoming holiday comedy produced by Chastain. At the “Women Breaking Barriers” panel, Spencer explained to the crowd how Chastain, 40, negotiated equal pay to hers for The Shape of Water actress.
“About 15 months ago, Jessica Chastain…contacted me and said, ‘I want us to do a comedy,'” Spencer said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah!’ She called me six months later, which would have been last March, and we were talking about pay equity with men and women. She was like, ‘It’s time that women get paid as much as men.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah Jessica, it’s time!’ We were dropping F-bombs and getting it all out there.”
Spencer, 47, continued, “And then I said, ‘But here’s the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women. So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table.’ And I told her my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of color.”
Spencer got emotional and began to cry as she told the story — she called her outpouring “happy tears.”
“I love that woman, because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk,” Spencer gushed of Chastain. “She said, ‘Octavia we’re gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. We’re gonna be favored nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing.’ Fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”
Spencer said she leapt at the opportunity to work with Chastain again because she was eager to get away from “period pieces” like The Help and The Shape of Water. The treatment for the comedy, co-written by Chastain, was eventually picked up by Universal. It will follow Chastain and Spencer as they struggle to overcome obstacles while trying to make it home for the holidays.
Chastain recently spoke to W about how important it was for her to start producing and “spread the wealth.”
“It is very important for me to take all the gifts that I’ve been given, because I’ve been given a lot of attention very fast, and spread the wealth a little bit, and now maybe point everyone in a direction of incredible female filmmakers or writers that I feel should be getting more work,” she said.
On Tuesday, Spencer was nominated for her third Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Shape of Water. She previously won the award for The Help.