Viola Davis is speaking out about her experience being underpaid and underappreciated in Hollywood.
PEOPLE reports that the Oscar-winning actress recently spoke to journalist Tina Brown at the Women in the World Salon event in Los Angeles, where Davis talked about the lack opportunities she’s faced in Hollywood.
“I have a career that’s probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver. They all came out of Yale, they came out of Juilliard, they came out of NYU,” the actress said. “They had the same path as me, and yet I am nowhere near them. Not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities, nowhere close to it.”
Davis, a Juilliard grad, has a lengthy career. She’s received three Oscar nominations, winning Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her turn in 2016’s Fences.
Davis says critics often compare her to Streep, but the actress says she has never received the same pay. “People say, ‘You’re a black Meryl Streep … We love you. There is no one like you, okay, then if there’s no one like me, you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth.”
Davis is also not receiving the same caliber roles. “As an artist, I want to build the most complicated human being but what I get is the third girl from the left.”
The actress went on to encourage young actresses of color to fight for their space and their worth.
“You’ll have a Shailene Woodley, who’s fabulous,” she said. “And, she may have had 37 magazine covers in one year. 37! And then you’ll have someone — a young actress of color who’s on her same level of talent and everything. And she may get four. And there is sense in our culture that you have to be happy with that.”
“I always mention what Shonda Rhimes said when she got the Normal Lear Award at the Producers Guild Awards about two or three years ago,” she added. “She said, ‘I accept this award because I believe I deserve it. Because when I walk in the room I ask for what I want and I expect to get it. And that’s why I believe I deserve this award. Because Norman Lear was a pioneer, and so am I.’ And that’s revolutionary as a woman, but it’s doubly revolutionary as a woman of color.”
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