Debra Messing Called Out E! Over Equal Pay Controversy, While On The E! Red Carpet

Tonight, the hosts of the E! red carpet are trying something radically new. Instead of asking what designer their interviewees are wearing, as usual, the hosts are asking why they're wearing black. Many actors and actresses have chosen to wear exclusively black to the Golden Globes as a way to use their wardrobe to advocate for gender equality and protest rampant sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond.
Debra Messing was the very first person E! host Giuliana Rancic asked that question to — and her response definitely wasn't what Rancic was expecting.
After explaining that she was wearing black to "stand in solidarity with her sisters around the globe" and celebrate the #TimesUp movement, Messing boldly applied one of the principles of #TimesUp — specifically that of equal pay for women — to the very network that was doing the interviews.
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"I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn't believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts," Messing said measuredly. "I miss Catt Sadler. We stand with her. And that's something that can change tomorrow. We want people t0 start having this conversation that women are just as valuable as men."
Earlier this year, veteran E! News host Catt Sadler discovered that her male counterpart, Jason Kennedy, was earning more than double her salary. Based on her findings, Sadler attempted to negotiate her salary with E! during contract negotiations.
“Not only did [E!] refuse to pay me as much as my male counterpart, but they didn’t come close — nowhere close, not even remotely close," Sadler told People in an interview.
With that, Sadler chose to exit the network after nearly 12 years spent serving as the host of Daily Pop and E! News.
In the People interview, Sadler explained her reasons for leaving. "How can I operate with integrity and stay on at E! if they’re not willing to pay me the same as him? Or at least come close? How can I accept an offer that shows they do not value my contributions and paralleled dedication all these years? How can I not echo the actions of my heroes and stand for what is right no matter what the cost? How can I remain silent when my rights under the law have been violated?”
Rancic quickly swerved past Messing's jab at her employer, and highlighted the important platform E! was providing for the political movement on the red carpet. The interview then seamlessly transitioned back to the larger issues surrounding the very political awards ceremony.
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If Messing seemed highly composed when making this bold statement, it's because it was a premeditated move. Perhaps she got the idea from Amy Schumer, who suggested actors and actresses "stand up for @iamcattsadler and ask @eentertainment why she wasn’t getting equal pay!" in an Instagram post.
Messing clearly took Schumer's advice, and kicked off the Golden Globes red carpet with a bold tone. Whereas most award show red carpets are characterised by giggles and small talk, the actresses being interviewed at the Golden Globes 2018 are taking their interviews straight to the important issues plaguing women around the world.
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