Emma Stone says male co-stars have taken pay cuts for her
Emma Stone may be playing tennis legend Billie Jean King 40 years after King’s most famous match, but the two still have something in common: a problem with gender-based pay disparity in their professions.
King sat down with Stone and Andrea Riseborough, another of the stars of the movie in which Stone is playing King, “Battle of the Sexes,” for an Out magazine article. The trio discussed several issues, including pay equity.
The movie follows the events of the 1973 tennis match in which King took on, and beat, Bobby Riggs, a retired player who had asserted that he there was no place for women in professional sports. It also chronicles the then-closeted King’s relationship with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (played by Riseborough).
That same year King famously threatened to boycott the U.S. Open over pay disparity for female athletes.
Stone pointed out that while there are several factors that determine pay in Hollywood, including box office performance, there is a “blanket issue that women, in general, are making four fifths at best.”
Some of her male colleagues have sought to balance that, she said.
“In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them,” Stone said. “And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair.”
Having that buy-in from men is crucial, she said.
“That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily—that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair,'” Stone said. “If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life.”
“And this is Billie Jean’s feminism, and I love it—she is equality, man: equality, equality, equality,” Stone added.
The actress also said she saw parallels between the King and Riggs match and the last presidential race.
“We began shooting in the spring of 2016, when there was still a lot of hope in the air, and it was very interesting to see this guy—this narcissistic, self-focused, constantly-stirring-the-pot kind of guy—against this incredible, qualified woman, and at the same time be playing Billie Jean, with Steve [Carell] playing Bobby Riggs,” Stone said. “Obviously the way this has all panned out has been fascinating and horrifying, and it still feels like we’re in a bad dream, but those parallels make sense to me—the equal-pay issue makes a lot of sense to me.”
“Battle of The Sexes” hits theaters on September 22.