The gender pay gap has plagued Hollywood for years, across not only acting but also directing, screen writing, costume design, music and the like.
In recent times we’ve seen stars like Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo, Brokeback Mountain’s Michelle Williams and The Crown’s Claire Foy all raise their hands and their voices on the issue.
Now, another voice has joined the chorus to protest a pay gap so wide, it’s laughable.
Co-writer of the popular and groundbreaking rom com, Crazy Rich Asians, Adele Lim has declined an offer to work on the two proposed film sequels after learning she would be paid a mere eighth of what another (male) writer would earn.
While Peter Chiarelli stood to make between $800,000- $1million US, Lim was offered only $110,000.
“Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions,” said Lim, who also referred to women and people of colour in Hollywood as being regarded as “soy sauce” — utilised only to drizzle culturally specific details on a screenplay, rather than credited with their true contribution of shaping a story.
Upon news of the pay gap breaking, Chiarelli reportedly offered to split his earnings with Lim. The gesture was described by Lim as “incredibly gracious”, however she insisted her worth “shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white guy writer.”
“If I couldn’t get pay equity after CRA, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of colour would never have been [hired for],” she said.
Crazy Rich Asians made nearly $240 million worldwide on a budget of $30 million, according to Box Office Mojo. While the main script was penned by Chiarelli, Lim was brought in by director Jon Chu to ensure that the film’s female protagonist was given a female point of view and that the story’s cultural nuances were properly showcased.
Lim, who grew up in Malaysia and is of Chinese descent, navigated this adeptly.
“For Jon and I to be able to go into our collective childhood histories and find that common ground between our experiences growing up and the character’s experiences in that book .… You want it to come from an authentic perspective,” she said.