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Why Thandie Newton’s right to say women need to be “disruptive” in 2018

Posted by
Susan Devaney
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Like many other actresses in Hollywood, Thandie Newton has also learned of late about her financial worth. 

No matter who we are or where we’ve come from, knowing (and fighting for) our worth is everything. Be it respect, self-appreciation or an equal salary.

And Thandie Newton is no stranger to that fight which is why after learning she was being paid significantly less on TV shows such as HBO’s Westworld, she acted in a way that’s a lesson to women everywhere.

“When I first discovered how much they were offering it made me realise, ‘Oh my God, men have been paid so much more.’ I had to have a big swallow of resentment. I gave it half an hour and then felt grateful,” Newton explained, according to the Guardian, during a Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday 19 June.

In HBO’s Westworld, Newton plays Maeve Millay – a self-aware robot that’s been programmed to fulfil the tasks of a sex worker at the fictional theme park.

She continued: “Every year I go into a new production or a new season of Westworld and I don’t think to ask for more, I just feel so grateful to be working. But we need to expect more for ourselves.”

And to achieve that Newton then urged women to stand up and demand equal pay. “We need pressure, we need to disrupt, it’s part of change and growth,” she said.

Newton is one of many bug name actresses who’ve been shocked to learn of the pay disparity between their male co-stars. Claire Foy, known for her role as Queen Elizabeth in The Crown, was being paid significantly less than her male co-star, Matt Smith. After Foy’s salary was made public - Foy was reportedly paid $40,000 (£29,000) per episode for the first two series - the producers of The Crown issued an apology to both her and her male co-star over the pay disparity.

Newton plays Maeve Millay in HBO’s Westworld

Newton – who’s starred in big film hits such as Crash, Mission Impossible 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story – stressed that campaigns around gender equality in TV and film industries were starting to bring about real change.

But, in truly moving forward that change also needs to extend to diversity and inclusivity on set.

“It’s so important that I walk on to a set and see others like me,” she said.

Newton, whose mother is from Zimbabwe, grew up in Cornwall and has previously spoken about feeling like an outsider, which is why she’s now using her influence to make sure everyone is fairly represented.

“If I walk on to a set and don’t see representation of a world that I live in, then I will make a change and I will talk to producers and say: ‘No, no, no.’ It’s not just about the people you see in front of the camera. I use my authority to do that. It’s a positive and the results are astounding.”

Go, Thandie.

Images: Getty / HBO