In an acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards on Sunday, Michelle Williams spoke out against the gender pay gap in Hollywood. “The next time a woman — and especially a woman of colour, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” Williams said. “Believe her.”
Williams accepted the Emmy for best actress in a limited series or TV movie for her role as Broadway dancer and actress Gwen Verdon in FX’s “Fosse/Verdon.”
In January 2018, news broke about a significant pay discrepancy between Williams and Mark Wahlberg, her co-star in the film “All the Money in the World,” about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III.
For 10 days of reshooting, they were both paid a per diem of $80 — but Wahlberg received an additional $1.5 million. Wahlberg and his talent agency (which also represented Williams) made a $2 million donation in Williams’ name to a fund that aims to fight pay inequality.
Below is Williams’ full speech:
“Thank you so much to the Television Academy for this, and to the incredible cast and crew who worked so hard to make this TV show, especially you, Sammy Rockwell. I know how hard you worked. I see this as an acknowledgement of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they’ll be heard. When I asked for more dance classes, I heard yes. More voice lessons, yes. A different wig, a pair of fake teeth not made out of rubber, yes. And all of these things, they require effort and they cost more money, but my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honour Gwen Verdon.
“And so I want to say thank you so much to FX and to Fox 21 Studios for supporting me completely and for paying me equally, because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value, and then where do they put that value? They put it into their work.
“And so the next time a woman — and especially a woman of colour, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her. Believe her. Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.
“Thank you. Matilda, this is for you, like everything else.”