Even though the gender pay gap has persisted to plague our society, California this year passed a law that prohibited employers from asking potential workers their previous salaries. This has been positive in so many ways: forcing employers to not judge minorities and women for the past wages they were given—because they may have been decided based on the wrong reasons—and allowing them to focus on the actual value that an individual may bring.
Though this regulation will greatly affect every field, the entertainment industry has been particularly impacted due to the systemic changes that are needing to be recalculated. Since the beginning of film, actors’ salaries have been based off of their previous quotes and essentially nothing else. This quote system is very outdated and has forced women and those of races that are not white to be at the bottom of the totem pole solely due to their insufficient opportunities in TV and film.
The issue of pay inequality in entertainment is not one that goes unnoticed. Just last year, Mark Wahlberg—who is the most paid actor in the world—was allotted $1.5 million for reshooting certain shots in All the Money in the World, whereas Michelle Williams—his very equal counterpart in the movie—was given a mere $1,000. Women of color have also historically been paid less than most other actors, but that has been steadily increasing over this year. Hence, having this regulation be placed on California, which is the home to the entertainment capital, may be a very positive step for pay equality.
However, it has come with some difficulties for the industry as this precedent has been set for so long. Instead of solely looking at an actor’s last project, producers and casting directors are challenged to weigh the value of each character in a film. Studios have had to drive up their producing budgets due to this—as those stars who have formerly been paid at one price will not settle for much less, so the entirety of the casting cost will are needing to increase. Others, though, believe that production costs are continuing to drastically increase due to more competition and better-quality features being produced, not just this new law.
In contrast to film, television has shown greater pay equality throughout time. Actors and actresses on average have been making almost the same amount, whereas women in film make a whopping fourth of what the males are receiving. To add to that, the highest grossing actor in TV is the beautiful, Latina Sofia Vergara, which is a win for many in this situation.
Due to the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, people of minorities have been provided with many more opportunities in television and are able to receive numerous roles in a shorter amount of time. This boom in the entertainment industry combined with the new regulation in California has already shown to make positive impacts on wages of actors. Now that such a widely known and greatly talked about industry is changing in a positive direction, it can hopefully have a significant impact on many other fields and possibly lead to a narrowing of the gender pay gap as a whole.