Scarlett Johansson tops the list of 2018’s highest-paid actresses, which also doesn’t feature any actresses of color.
Johansson has made, according to Forbes, “$40.5 million in pretax earnings between June 1, 2017, and June 1, 2018[.]” Her role as Black Widow in the Marvel Avengers series “quadruples her 2017 earnings to bump Emma Stone from No. 1.”
The list of actresses below, as gathered from Forbes, contains the usual suspects, but it’s the demographics of the actresses, as well as their earnings, that tell a story of stark inequality in Hollywood.
1. Scarlett Johansson: $40.5 million
2. Angelina Jolie: $28 million
3. Jennifer Aniston: $19.5 million
4. Jennifer Lawrence: $18 million
5. Reese Witherspoon: $16.5 million
6. Mila Kunis: $16 million
7. Julia Roberts: $13 million
8. Cate Blanchett: $12.5 million
9. Melissa McCarthy: $12 million
10. Gal Gadot: $10 million
The first thing to note is that every person on the list is white. The second thing is that the lowest number on this list is $10 million, which makes you wonder if that is the smallest salary featuring the 10 highest-paid actresses in Hollywood, then how much do black actresses and other actresses of color make a year?
Viola Davis talked about the pay discrepancy in Porter Magazine.”If Caucasian women are getting paid 50 percent of what men are getting paid, we’re not even getting a quarter of what white women are getting paid,” Davis said. “…They deserve everything they get paid. Nicole Kidman deserves it. Reese Witherspoon deserves it. Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Frances McDormand…But guess what–I deserve it, too. So does Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Halle Berry. We’ve put the work in, too.”
When you put it in numbers, the discrepancy is much more vivid. BET quoted Variety when writing that Viola Davis and Kerry Washington only made $250,000 per episode of their Shondaland shows How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal, compared to Ellen Pompeo’s $400,000 per episode of Shondaland’s other cash cow Grey’s Anatomy. Tracee Ellis Ross got paid $80,000 per episode of Kenya Barris’ ABC family comedy Black-ish compared to Ross’ TV husband Anthony Anderson’s pay–$100,000 an episode. But neither of them made as much as Patricia Heaton and Tim Allen, who made $250,000 an episode from their ABC shows, The Middle and Last Man Standing. Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard have only earned $175,000 per episode of Lee Daniels’ Fox hit Empire, with Trai Byers, Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett only getting $20,000 per episode.
This list should spur Hollywood, particularly those in the Times Up movement, to demand better pay for actresses of color. It’s not as if Johansson is a better actress than Davis or Henson; if she gets to be one of the highest paid, they should be, as well.