California Regulation Causes a Positive Shift in Entertainment

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 This quote system is very outdated and has forced women and those of races that are not white to be at the bottom of the totem pole solely due to their insufficient opportunities in TV and film.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.

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3 thoughts on “California Regulation Causes a Positive Shift in Entertainment

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  1. All throughout American the gender gap for pay is still very much intact. So, of course I was aware that it is an issue in entertainment, but I had no idea how intense the inequality was. I appreciate the specific example of the Walberg versus Williams pay – that is truly astonishing. I think it added a sense of urgency to the article. Your point about alternative television left me wondering if there is a solution to the gender gap in classic media, or if we will need to look to new forms of media to fix the problem. I think that alternative media is a good start, but classic television and movie providers should feel a need to be more equal, especially with the controversies surrounding the industry today.

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  2. The gender wage gap is a tricky phenomenon. On the one hand, it has decreased significantly for most women, especially in working-class blue collar type positions. The wage gap is now lower than it ever has. However, the push to close the gap has stalled in the past few years, and the progress has not been as much as so many would hope. Even worse, women in top executive, academic, and government positions have actually witnessed an increase in the gender wage gap over the last few years, which is extremely discouraging. When women in top positions do not see much improvement, it can discourage other women from the hard work and dedication it takes to get those types of positions–just when we need them most.

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  3. It seems as though the movie industry is behind the television industry in many ways- casting minorities has also been an issue that television has been much better at incorporating into the industry than film.
    I think that the new regulation will be a positive shift in the pursuit for equal pay. I was surprised by the examples and statistics you provided. I think that weighing the pay based off the importance of the character rather than previous pay will be a beneficial way to prevent underpaying or undervaluing some actors and actresses.

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