Viola Davis Says She Isn't Making A White Actress Salary

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Viola Davis is widely considered one of the most talented and dynamic actresses of our generation. The star has earned both an Oscar and an Emmy, and has been nominated numerous times for both awards. However, the How To Get Away With Murder star's talents don't always equate to a salary on par with some of her peers in the industry.
If you're first thought was "that's bull," well, that's exactly what Davis thinks, too. Per People, the Fences actress revealed her struggle with equal pay when she sat down with journalist Tina Brown for the Women in the World Salon on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
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While the pay gap in Hollywood has long been discussed as a gender issue, there's also a disparity in pay between white women and women of colour. Davis explained how that has affected her on a personal level at the Women in the World Salon.
"I have a career that’s probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver," Davis said in her conversation with Brown. "They all came out of Yale, they came out of Juilliard, they came out of NYU. They had the same path as me, and yet I am nowhere near them. Not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities, no where close to it."
The actress continued:
"People say, 'You’re a black Meryl Streep… We love you. There is no one like you.' Okay, then if there's no one like me, you think I'm that, you pay me what I’m worth."
This isn't the first time that Davis has spoken out about how Hollywood needs to be more inclusionary of people of colour — and women in particular. She used her platform when accepting her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series award at the 2015 Emmys to shine a light on the issue.
"The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity... You cannot win an Emmy for a role that is simply not there," the Juilliard graduate stated on stage. She was the first Black woman to win an acting Emmy for a lead role in the drama category.
Davis' talent should be celebrated — but it shouldn't just be praised. The prolific actress deserves to have salaries that are on par with the white actresses on her level — and, perhaps most importantly, deserves the opportunity to go out for roles that any star would want to play. Davis may be called the "Black Meryl Streep" by some, but in reality, there's just one Davis... and aren't we lucky to have her?
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