Chadwick Boseman raising Sienna Miller’s salary with his own pay proves a big problem

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Hollie Richardson
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Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller.

Sienna Miller has revealed that her former co-star Chadwick Boseman paid her some of his salary to ensure she was paid what she “deserved”. Although it was an amazing deed, does it also prove a big problem?

Last month, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer. Tributes quickly flooded social media, honouring his trailblazing work in Black representation on-screen. Boseman was, indeed, a real-life superhero who used his platform to educate and inspire others. 

As Michelle Obama put it in an Instagram post: “He, too, knew what it meant to truly persevere. He, too, knew that real strength starts inside. And he, too, belongs right there with them as a hero – for Black kids and for all of our kids.”

So today’s (29 September) news about how he helped former co-star Sienna Miller will come as no surprise to his fans. 

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In an interview with Empire, Miller revealed that Boseman was instrumental in casting her in his film, 29 Bridges. In fact, he even donated part of his own salary to increase her fee.

“I didn’t know whether or not to tell this story, and I haven’t yet,” Miller says. “But I am going to tell it, because I think it’s a testament to who he was.” 

Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller
Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller starred in 21 Bridges together.

She continues: “This was a pretty big budget film, and I know that everybody understands about the pay disparity in Hollywood, but I asked for a number that the studio wouldn’t get to.

“And because I was hesitant to go back to work and my daughter was starting school and it was an inconvenient time, I said, ‘I’ll do it if I’m compensated in the right way.’

“And Chadwick ended up donating some of his salary to get me to the number that I had asked for. He said that that was what I deserved to be paid.”

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According to Miller, Boseman told her: “You’re getting paid what you deserve, and what you’re worth.” She also explained there was no “showiness”, adding: “It was, ‘Of course I’ll get you to that number because that’s what you should be paid.’”

This was, undisputedly, an amazing deed for Boseman to do. But it should also make Hollywood feel very uncomfortable. 

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There’s of course Hollywood’s gender pay gap: a team of economists recently found that male Hollywood stars earn $1.1m more per film than their similarly experienced female co-stars.

Miller has spoken about inequality in the industry before, telling The Guardian she turned down a broadway role because they were not willing to offer her pay parity with her male co-star. 

“The decision to turn down this particular role was difficult and lonely,” Miller said. “I was forced to choose between making a concession on my self-worth and dignity and a role that I was in love with.”

Chadwick Boseman smiling
Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died with cancer last month.

Then there’s the fact that Boseman was a Black actor and producer on the movie: UCLA’S Hollywood Diversity Report 2019 found that only two out of 10 lead actors in films are people of colour. 

This adds to the frustration that – in a white, male upper-class dominated industry – a Black actor paid a female actor from his salary when the studio wouldn’t.

While progress is certainly being made when it comes to diversity in Hollywood, this just proves there is still a very long way to go. But there’s no denying that it was another class act by Boseman. 

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