All I can say is: Get it, ladies.
According to THR, both Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman will earn around $1 million an episode. Their co-stars will also receive major pay bumps as well: Zoë Kravitz, for example, will now earn a total of $3 million for season 2, compared with $380,000 from season 1.
The reason for the raise, THR reports, is that Witherspoon received a large salary for her new morning show scripted series, set to debut on Apple. That, coupled with the success of season 1 and desire for HBO to continue what would have been a limited series, helped the cast earn more this round.
This is, obviously, great news for the cast of Big Little Lies, a series which swept up awards at both the Emmys and Golden Globes. However, there's also another win here: The fact that these women's salaries have been made public can help other women in Hollywood leverage for more. For Kidman, specifically, it's quite possible (though pure speculation) that learning of Witherspoon's pay raise helped her negotiate for a similar or same salary.
With so many stories of men making significantly more than their female peers, women need all of the leverage they can get. While that leverage can come from learning what their male co-stars or peers in the industry are making, it can also come from hearing of a woman's recent pay raise. Positive negotiations can help other women think, "Well, why not me?"
In a piece for The Hollywood Reporter, Melissa Silverstein, founder of the nonprofit Women and Hollywood and director of the Athena Film Festival, opened up about how women were once encouraged to stay quiet about what they were making. In the wake of #MeToo and stories of insane wage gaps between male and female stars, that's changing:
"For women in Hollywood, the system was created to isolate them from each other and to pit them against one another," Silverstein told THR. "Women are taking back the power by sharing the information in a way that has never been done before."
It makes sense. If an A-list actress hears that her industry peer is making significantly more than her on a similar scale project, it can embolden her to speak up in her next contract negotiation.
Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo addressed the issue candidly in a cover story for The Hollywood Reporter. The actress stated that women are often not paid their worth — which is why, when she was able to renegotiate her contract for future episodes of her ABC series, she asked for more than she ever had.
"A guy wouldn't have any problem asking for $600,000 an episode. And as women, we're like, 'Oh, can I ask for that? Is that OK?' I'd call Shonda [Rhimes] and say, 'Am I being greedy?' But CAA compiled a list of stats for me, and Grey's has generated nearly $3 billion for Disney. When your face and your voice have been part of something that's generated $3 billion for one of the biggest corporations in the world, you start to feel like, 'Okay, maybe I do deserve a piece of this.'"
It's a snowball effect. The more women fight for what they deserve, and share what they are making with their peers, the more likely other actresses will feel confident to ask for their own worth. We're sure HBO will find that Witherspoon, Kidman, and the entirety of the cast of Big Little Lies are once again worth every penny.