Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin lived on $US20,000 or less a year until age 36.
That’s just one of the many surprising details she shared in an essay on the problems of unequal pay in Hollywood for Variety.
“I’m someone who has been very open about asking for raises and trying to get equal pay. You’re just simply told, ‘No.’ It’s brutal,” Griffin wrote.
The comedian said she first became aware of the inequity during her first paid acting job on the 1990s comedy “Suddenly Susan.” Griffin said she made the second-lowest salary on the cast.
“Judd Nelson, who I liked, made four times what I made, and he ended up getting fired,” she pointed out.
After working for three seasons on the show, Griffin said she had had enough. She decided to go directly to the president of Warner Bros. Television at the time, Peter Roth, to ask for a raise.
“It was an all-out brawl,” she recalled. “I wrote down a number on a napkin, because I was making a joke about how it was like a car sale. I got a raise. I still didn’t make equal pay to what the guys were making.”
Even now, with “two Emmys, a Grammy, three television shows with my name in the title, and a New York Times best-seller,” Griffin isn’t being paid the same amount for her annual New Year’s special with Anderson Cooper on CNN.
“I’ll try to get a little more money this year. I might. But I might not,” she said.
The issue of unequal pay for actresses got headline attention during the Sony hack last year, in which emails revealed that Jennifer Lawrence made less than her male co-stars in “American Hustle.” Lawrence became the center of the equal-pay controversy once again after writing an essay for Lena Dunham’s new newsletter, Lenny, about the topic.
All of that hasn’t trickled down to Griffin, though: “I’ve never been paid what the guys get. No, it’s not getting better for me. It might be getting better for Jennifer Lawrence. But I’m not 25 and a movie star.”
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