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The Schmooze

Chelsea Handler’s Star-Studded Roundtable Reveals Just How Sexist Hollywood Really Is

It’s not a surprise to most women that a gender-based wage gap exists, but it can be a shock to learn just how pervasive and enormous it can be.

Comedian Chelsea Handler took that subject on in Wednesday’s installment of her Netflix series “Chelsea.” Hosting director Ava DuVernay, actresses Hilary Swank and Connie Britton, and Miss USA Deshauna Barber at a women’s dinner party, Handler asked DuVernay to discuss her experience working on her acclaimed 2014 film “Selma.”

In a clip published Tuesday, DuVernay said she was the seventh director approached for the film, and the first female one. Excited about making the leap from directing a film with a $200,000 budget to one with a budget of $20 million, she said, her understanding of the that significance changed when she ran into a male friend who is also a film director. He’d also just made a big leap, he told her: he’d be directing “Jurassic World,” which had a budget of $150 million. (That budget wasn’t mentioned in the clip.)

Swank responded with two stories of her own. First, she said, when she made “Boys Don’t Cry,” the 1998 drama for which she earned her first Academy Award for Best Actress, she earned only $3,000, an amount that didn’t qualify her for health insurance. Later, after she was awarded her second Best Actress Oscar for 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby,” she was offered a role in a movie for $500,000; she learned that the film’s male star, who had little critical acclaim, was being paid $10 million. She didn’t take the part.

Barber expressed surprise at the stories, asking “Is that not unfair, though?” Handler, in response, exclaimed “It’s bullsh*t.” Consider that sentiment echoed, and watch the full clip below.

Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture fellow. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter, @TalyaZax


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