On January 26th, Octavia Spencer, star of The Help, The Shape of Water, and Hidden Figures, took part in a Sundance panel in Park City, Utah.
During the conversation, Spencer emphasized the importance of male allies in the fight for equality by telling the story of how LeBron James, a producer on her new Netflix limited series, stepped in to make sure she was paid an appropriate amount for her work.
Spencer will be playing the titular role in the new Netflix show Madam C.J. Walker.
During the panel, she told the story about how James's influence made the difference in making sure she was paid what she deserved:
"I have to say, when I was negotiating my deal for Madam C.J., LeBron James had to intervene. So we need all our male counterparts to be in the fight with us."
Kyra Sedgwick, Jenna Elfman and Cassian Elwes also appeared on the panel.
According to Bustle, Elwes agreed with Spencer's point on the importance of male allies, but also acknowledged that men often fall short of their hopes:
"I think men are on a steep learning curve in Hollywood. I was in the middle of a negotiation, actually in the last two days, where the lawyer for the male star was saying, 'Oh, he should get paid more than she should,' and I was like, 'Absolutely not, they're going to be most favored nations in this deal, they're gonna get the same deal basically."
Meanwhile, female allies also make a huge difference in supporting each other and ensuring equitable pay.
Spencer told the story of how, after speaking of her struggle with Jessica Chastain, Chastain had her pay increased five-fold:
"I told her my story and we talked numbers and she was quiet, and she had no idea that that's what it was like for women of color. Fast forward to last week, we're making five times what we asked for. Jessica Chastain believes, she is walking the walk."
While she knows progress takes a long time, Spencer is also excited for the direction Hollywood is moving in:
"I'm a pragmatist, and I think that what's exciting is, for me right now, is I feel like there's a paradigm shift and women are leading the charge in that."
"We just have to continue the momentum, and we have to remember that all of us, we need to work together, men and women. We need to advocate for each other."
Twitter was behind Spencer 100% in her fight for equality:
In the never-ending journey towards equity of pay, every bit of help makes a difference, whether it's from a man or a woman.