Nia Long has been wowing TV and film fans for nearly thirty years, but that hasn’t protected the acclaimed actor from experiencing the same challenges Black women in the workplace face every single day.
“I have watched a lot of men get rich off of the films that I’ve done and I was being paid peanuts,” Long recently confessed to the Associated Press.
While Long has lived a life many of us can only dream about, she’s also fought hard to be paid what she’s worth. Unfortunately, according to the Love Jones star, ensuring she gets what she’s owed has come at a steep price.
“When I requested or wanted more, I was considered difficult, outspoken, entitled, and all of the things that should not be used to describe a woman who has earned her space, her place and delivers,” Long said, “And that just doesn’t apply to me, that’s for everyone.”
Hollywood has been undergoing a reckoning about inclusivity and the treatment of women, particularly since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements picked up steam last year. While women have been suffering in silence for years about things like harassment and lower pay, Long said the conversations women normally have in private are finally spilling out into the public.
“I think we are talking about it,” she said. “Women are more inclined to have those in-the-kitchen conversations with one another where we can just talk freely about all the things that we’ve been shamed [for].”
Long isn’t the only woman dishing about the pay gap in Hollywood, particularly because Black female actors are chronically underpaid in comparison to their white counterparts. Back in January, Black-ish star, Tracee Ellis Ross spoke openly about her contract renegotiations for the hit show.
“I wanted to be compensated in a way that matches my contribution to a show that I love for many reasons, including the opportunity it allows me to reshape what it is to be a fully realized Black woman on TV,” Ross wrote in a statement. “I’m truly thankful that important conversations are taking place about fighting for women’s worth and equality, tightening the pay gap in every industry.”
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer also discussed the fact that even with an Academy Award under her belt, she often makes less money than her white counterparts.
“Women of color…we make far less than white women,” Spencer said at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. “So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table.”