In her recent interview with InStyle magazine, the famous beauty queen turned Hollywood star, Priyanka Chopra talked about the pay disparity in Hollywood, based on gender and even the color of skin, bringing to fore the underlying racism that still remains.
The actor has starred in over 50 Bollywood movies, has a Miss World title, and pivotal roles in the network series like Quantico and films like Baywatch to her credit. Chopra is, in fact, the first South Asian actor to headline an American primetime show!
But the actor still faces discrimination based on gender and skin color, when it comes to discussing her fees for a role!
Recounting a conversation between her agent and a studio in 2017, she mentioned that she lost the role for being the “wrong physicality”. While the actor pondered if she needed to get in shape for the role, her agent broke it down for her, saying, ‘I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.’ This conversation affected Priyanka to her core.
She said that there exists a huge pay gap between men and women (and more so with women of color). The racism that seeps into castings may be subtler in Hollywood, but it shows up. “No one will say that a woman is getting paid less because she’s a woman of color, but the numbers mostly end up reflecting that,” she says.
In an industry marred by allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, exclusivity has always been rampant. It is already difficult for non-white performers to make their mark in an industry known for being selective for reasons including ethnicity and ‘the way they look.’ There aren’t many roles being written with them as leads or keeping them in mind as other than a ‘character’ or ‘exotic’ actors! It removes any bargaining power for the non-white performers, especially women, to negotiate better fees for their work.
Last year saw women across industries, especially in Hollywood, came forth strongly against sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender and equal pay.
We hope that with outspoken actors like Priyanka Chopra bringing into focus the rampant racism and sexism in Hollywood, the trend of voicing against such biases will continue till they cease to exist.