Late last year, leaked emails from the Sony hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence(and costar Amy Adams) made less money from their film American Hustle than their male counterparts. The 25-year-old actress, who has never been one to shy away from saying what’s on her mind, had remained quiet on the salary controversy. This morning, however, she tackled the wage gender gap in Hollywood with a new essay for the Lenny newsletter.
In her piece, “Why Do These Dudes Make More Than Me?” Lawrence explained that she initially hesitated to speak on this particular issue because she doesn’t like to join conversations that “feel like they’re trending” (Equal pay has, after all, beenall the rage in Hollywood.) But, after realizing that with talk comes change, she finally decided to open up on her experience with wage inequality.
Lawrence begins by acknowledging that her problems are hard to relate to, but regardless of the size of her paycheck, she has suffered a gender bias. Not only did Lawrence make less than Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Christian Bale forAmerican Hustle, but as the highest-paid actress in the world, she’s also still trailing behind highest-earning actor, Robert Downey, Jr. (Downey, Jr. made $80 million, while Lawrence earned $52 million.) In her piece, she blames herself for being a poor negotiator and writes that the fear of seeming “difficult” and “spoiled” kept her from pushing for a better deal in the past. Lawrence ends the essay by saying that she’s tired of choosing to seem likable over getting what she deserves.
It’s almost funny that one of the world’s most popular movie stars was scared to come off as unlikable. This fear has been an issue many other powerful women have had to deal with in the past. Recall last year’s “Ban Bossy” campaign from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who started the movement after saying she was tired of hearing the word being used as a derogatory term for decisive women. And who can forget the vitriol (and subsequent online threats) Emma Watsonreceived after she proudly declared herself a feminist during her powerful U.N. speech.
While words like bossy and feminist have long carried negative connotations, Lawrence’s essay also highlights other potentially problematic terms, such asdifficult and spoiled. The actress referenced an instance when she offended a man by giving her opinion in a clear and “no-bullshit way.” “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable!” she wrote. “Fuck that.”
The actress has since learned her lesson. This summer, Lawrence secured a deal for her upcoming film, Passengers, in which she makes considerably more money than her costar Chris Pratt. Lawrence’s negotiating feat, along with today’s Lennyessay, shows it’s important for an actress, especially America’s sweetheart, to say—curses and all—exactly what’s on her mind.