Female Filmmaker Friday

#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – The Unequal Pay Debate, part two

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We left off with the question: wtf is a name actor.

A name actor is someone who is recognizable. I am not a name actor. I have a name! My name is Kate! But I am not A NAME. Matt Smith is a name. You know him, which is why his representation was able to negotiate a higher rate of pay for him than Foy’s reps were able to negotiate for her. It’s A LITTLE bit comparable to experience in the workplace, but exacerbated. He had recognizability she did not. And this happens a lot – and it skews male because men have more opportunities than women (bigger roles, more visibility, etc), so it’s just a cycle that goes on and on.

I don’t begrudge Smith’s reps (or Smith) for wheeling and dealing. I don’t begrudge anyone for doing his or her job – and it is Smith’s agent’s job to get him the highest rate of pay they can. I also don’t really begrudge producers for not trying to offer Foy more money; their job is to keep overhead low, and that means keeping pay to a dull roar. 

That said, obviously it’s not fair – it’s not fair from the lowest rung straight on up. I think the most proactive way to handle this, however, is not to ask production to go against everything it represents. We need the actors’ union to take a stand and protect its underrepresented members to ensure that pay is commiserate with job AND experience (or, you know, my favorite term: NAME). SAG should be stepping in to assist those contract negotiations and actors need to be more vocal about their pay. If Foy and Smith had discussed it, I doubt we would be.

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