Gillian Anderson takes aim at The X-Files’ lack of gender diversity

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Anna Brech
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Gillian Anderson is a woman who can hold her own, whether she’s fighting extra-terrestrial beings on the big screen or battling with gremlins of a real-life variety. 

So, it comes as little surprise that the 48-year-old actress has waded in strong to a debate about gender diversity on the show that made her a household name.

Anderson made her feelings clear on the matter by re-tweeting an article that probed why the 11th season of The X-Files has not a single woman on its team of writers.

To add insult to injury, Anderson pointed out that only two of the forthcoming 207 episodes are directed by women, as well (and she herself was one of them).

It’s a situation that is familiar to Anderson.

This is a woman who has picked up multiple awards for her depiction of the conspiracy-busting Dana Scully. And yet she’s had to fight for a level playing field with her co-star David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) at every turn.

When the Hollywood star first started filming the show, back in the 90s, she was even directed “to stand a few feet behind her male partner on camera, careful never to step side-by-side with him”, the Daily Beast reports.

It took three years for her to demand both equal pay and literally an equal footing to Duchovny, despite the fact that they shared equal screen time and both were equally responsible for the series’ success.

“I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick,” Anderson says of Fox studio’s bizarre direction on the matter. “Or that, somehow, maybe it was enough of a change just to see a woman having this kind of intellectual repartee with a man on camera, and surely the audience couldn’t deal with actually seeing them walk side by side!”

“I don’t know how long it lasted or if it changed because I eventually said, ‘Fuck no! No!’” she adds. “I don’t remember somebody saying, ‘OK, now you get to walk alongside him.’ But I imagine it had more to do with my intolerance and spunk than it being an allowance that was made.”

Amazingly, Anderson faced the same issue of a glaring gender pay gap when producers persuaded her to come on-board for The X-Files’ revival in 2016.

The actress was initially offered half of the fee landed by Duchovny; and in an era where women’s wages in Hollywood have become a hotbed issue. 

“I’m surprised that more [interviewers] haven’t brought that up because it’s the truth,” Anderson responded, when the Daily Beast asked her about  the pay disparity (first disclosed in the Hollywood Reporter).

“Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it’s important that it gets heard and voiced. It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly. I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it.

“Even in interviews in the last few years, people have said to me, ‘I can’t believe that happened, how did you feel about it, that is insane.’ And my response always was, ‘That was then, this is now.’ And then it happened again! I don’t even know what to say about it.”

She added, “It is… sad.”

It is understood that both stars were eventually paid the same for the event series, but clearly not without Anderson having to do battle.

So, forget alien abductions. When the day comes where women and men are paid equally without question AND we have gender equality in all industries as a natural form of progression; then we'll sleep easy at night.

Images: Rex Features


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.