In a roundtable interview with Out magazine for her new movie, Battle of the Sexes, Emma Stone revealed that her male costars have personally taken pay cuts in an effort to fix Hollywood’s stubborn gender pay gap.
“In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them,” she said. “And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair. That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily: that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair.’”
Stone said men stepping up for what’s fair is especially important, considering unequal pay in one film can often spell out lesser pay for most of an actress’ career.
“If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life,” she said.
In Battle of the Sexes, Stone plays Billie Jean King, the gay female tennis player who famously went up against retired male tennis player Bobby Riggs in a historic match in 1973. As Out notes, politics surrounding gender and sexuality had come to a fever pitch that year, with the Supreme Court handing down its landmark ruling on Roe v. Wade.
At the time, King was up against the most virulent forms of sexism — one of them being the gender pay gap. That same year, King threatened to boycott the U.S. Open because it offered less prize money to female players who won the tournament. When King won the tournament the year before, she’d earned a prize of just $10,000 as compared to the male winner’s $25,000.
Her threats worked, and 1973 became the first year the U.S. Open offered equal pay for men and women — but it took 28 years for the tennis tournament to consistently offer equal prize money to its champions.
During the same roundtable interview, King said Stone’s male costars prove how vital men are to fixing the wage gap problem.
“Men are so vital to these changes — because they’re usually in the power position, and if they start to change the paradigms, things start to shift,” King said.
But she added that it’s not to understate the power of women’s ability to stick up for themselves.
“Oh, yeah, we’re supposed to be happy with the crumbs,” King said, “Women deserve the cake, the icing and the cherry on top as well, just like the men. So let’s go for it.”