The actor says that she earns less than her male co-star, as new government figures reveal the extent of pay inequality in the UK.
After its 2014 premiere, TV drama The Affair quickly became a cult favourite for its suspenseful, multi-layered depiction of adultery. In the show, British actors Ruth Wilson and Dominic West play Alison and Noah, two baggage-laden individuals who gradually become entangled in a romantic and sexual relationship – unbeknownst to their respective spouses.
In the first season of The Affair, we see the infidelity unfolding from Alison and Noah’s two conflicting viewpoints. More narrative perspectives are introduced in subsequent seasons, but there’s no doubt that Wilson and West are still the stars of the show.
Yet according to Wilson, West has consistently been paid more than her for his role in the drama. In a new interview with Radio Times, the actor was asked if there was a gender pay gap on The Affair, the fourth season of which is set to air this summer.
“Yeah. I think so,” she replied. “Certainly when I signed up to that project, I would have got paid less [than West].”
Wilson said that pay inequality in the first series of The Affair could potentially be explained by the fact that West was more of a known quantity in the States, where the show is set, at the time. However, she argued that she still didn’t earn as much as her co-star, even after winning a Golden Globe in 2015 for her portrayal of Alison.
“They [the producers] might argue, ‘Well, he’s already done a major American TV show [The Wire] so he’s already got a level.’ But even after a Golden Globe I’m not going to be on parity,” Wilson said.
“So he definitely gets more than me. I mean, I don’t know what the figure is, but I’m sure he does.”
Wilson added that she had never spoken with West directly about how much he earned. “It’s quite hard to bring that up in a way. But it needs to be an open discussion and men need to help us out.
“I don’t want more money, I just want equal money,” she continued. “Which means men have to take less.”
Watch: Ruth Wilson talks Time’s Up with Stylist
Wilson’s comments on the gender pay gap in the entertainment industry came shortly before the government revealed that men still earn more than women in most companies in the UK.
Government figures show that 74% of medium and large firms (classed as those with more than 250 employees) pay men higher wage rates than women. Just 15% of businesses of that size paid a higher rate to women staff, and only 11% said there was no gender pay difference amongst their staff.
This data was gathered as a result of the government’s ongoing investigation into pay inequality in the UK. By law, all UK firms with more than 250 staff must report their gender pay gap to the government by 4 April this year. A little over 1,000 firms have so far filed their salary figures, meaning that 8,000 companies have yet to comply.
Charles Cotton, senior performance and reward adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said that some companies might be planning to file their returns at the last minute to avoid too much scrutiny.
“They may be hoping that by waiting until the deadline and submitting at the same time as others that their results will get lost in the crowd,” he told BBC News. However, he said that firms had a responsibility to try and help change “societal norms”.
Images: Rex Features / Showtime