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Amy Adams explains why she stayed quiet over American Hustle pay scandal

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Kayleigh Dray
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Amy Adams explains why she stayed quiet over American Hustle pay scandal

Amy Adams knew she was being paid less than her male American Hustle co-stars – so why didn’t she speak out?

Riotously funny, unabashedly bold and impeccably cast, American Hustle received critical acclaim when it hit cinemas in 2013, scoring a cool 93% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 267 reviews.

In the film, Amy Adams starred as female lead Sydney Prosser, while Jennifer Lawrence played Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the wife of Christian Bale’s character Irving. The pair won Golden Globes for Best Actress and Supporting Actress in a Musical or Comedy respectively in 2013, and each received Academy Award nominations for their standout performances, too.

However, following the cyberattack on Sony in 2014, a series of leaked emails revealed that Adams and Lawrence were paid significantly less than their male co-stars.

In an email dated 5 December 2013, Andrew Gumpert, President of Business Affairs and Administration for Columbia Pictures, wrote to Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Doug Belgrad, President of SPE Motion Picture Group, about the “points” – or back-end compensation – that each actor was to receive on Hustle. (The “Jennifer” referred to is Lawrence, “Amy” is Adams, “Bale” is Christian Bale, “O’Russell” is director David O. Russell, “Cooper” is Bradley Cooper, “Renner” is Jeremy Renner, and “Megan” is Megan Ellison, head of Annapurna Pictures, which co-financed Hustle.)

“Got a steve warren/gretchen rush call that it’s unfair the male actors get 9% in the pool and jennifer is only at 7pts,” the email read, according to The Daily Beast

“You may recall Jennifer was at 5 (amy was and is at 7) and WE anted in 2 extra points for Jennifer to get her up to 7. If anyone needs to top jennifer up it’s megan. BUT I think amy and Jennifer are tied so upping JL, ups AA.”

Gumpert added: “The current talent deals are: O’Russell: 9%; Cooper: 9%; Bale: 9%; Renner: 9%; Lawrence: 7%; Adams: 7%.”

While Lawrence addressed the issue in an open letter, stating that she was angry at herself for not speaking up more, Adams has always been more reticent about criticising her employers.

Now, in an interview with The Telegraph, the actress has now explained her silence, insisting that she’d rather focus on people in much less well-paid industries getting paid what they’re worth.

“Everyone wanted me to talk about how I felt about it, but I want to fight for people outside our industry, so to come out and look ungrateful about what I’m paid as an actress just didn’t feel right,” she said.

The Nocturnal Animals star continued: “I do believe in equal pay, but let’s start with our teachers. Let’s get waiters paid the minimum wage.

“That’s what’s great about what’s happening with Time’s Up – we’re starting to have bigger conversations than just about what’s happening in Hollywood.”

Asked if there are any early incidents from her career that she wouldn’t be comfortable with now, she said: “Yes, and I wasn’t OK with it back then either.

“I had to audition in a bikini. I didn’t get the role, because the character would be filmed wearing one and I don’t look good in swimwear. I really don’t. And that’s OK – that’s not why I was put on this earth. But I don’t know a single woman, working in any industry, who doesn’t have a story like that, about feeling vulnerable.”

From the BBC to the NHS, in recent months the sheer scale of the gender pay gap has started to be exposed across multiple industries.

A similar petition was created last year when it was revealed that Michelle Williams was paid a lot less for reshooting scenes in All The Money In The World compared to her co-star actor Mark Wahlberg. The petition was successful as Wahlberg donated his salary to the Time’s Up fund.

It’s of importance to note that these petitions are not just calling on the actors to make change happen, but for agents (who negotiate salaries), producers and CEOs to ensure women are paid an equal wage to their male counterpart.

Since its inception in January this year, the Time’s Up Legal Fund has raised more than $21 million (£15 million) and has taken on 1,000 cases, according to CNN.

You can read more on the gender pay gap here.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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