Octavia Spencer gets emotional describing how Jessica Chastain fought for her pay equality

By: Meaghan Wray

When it comes to gender equality in Hollywood, Jessica Chastain has long been at the forefront of the movement - and it hasn't gone unnoticed by her colleagues. While speaking on a Sundance Film Festival panel on Jan. 25, Octavia Spencer became emotional when describing how her close friend helped her earn an equal wage.

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The award-winning actress shared her experience on the “Women Breaking Barriers” panel, where industry heavyweights opened up about the inequalities they face in Hollywood. Octavia revealed a heartwarming story about the particular plight of women of colour, saying, “[Jessica] was like, ‘It’s time women get paid the same as men!’ We were dropping f-bombs and getting it all out there. And then I said, ‘But here’s the thing: women of colour, on that spectrum, we make far less than white women…’ She was quiet. She had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of colour.”

As soon as the conversation started, Octavia paused, getting visibly choked up by the powerful memory, “She said, ‘Octavia, we’re going to get you paid on this film.’” The actresses are currently working together on a Universal comedy, their first joint effort since 2012's The Help, for which Octavia took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

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“Fast forward to last week,” she continued. “We’re making five times what we asked for.” The audience erupted in applause and cheers, clearly overwhelmed by the excitement of the moment. It’s a conversation that Octavia says she’s glad has begun.

Jessica has been part of this dialogue for quite some time, even before movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up brought the conversation to the forefront. At the Cannes Film Festival last year, the Oscar-nominated actress spoke out about disturbing patterns she’d seen in the winning films, saying, “This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies. And the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that I saw represented. And it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest.”

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