Octavia Spencer Deserves Far More Than What Shes Gotten in Hollywood

Why is Academy Award-winning Octavia Spencer always baking for white women or helping them fuck fish at the movies?

It all comes down to respectwhich Spencer, as a black woman in Hollywood, has clearly not been on the receiving end of.

Thursday, at a Sundance Film Festival panel titled Women Breaking Barriers, Spencer shared that her salary hasnt been up to snuff in Hollywood. Shes currently developing a film with her friend and The Help co-star Jessica Chastain, and Spencer educated Chastain on the fact that while white women make less than men do in Hollywood, women of color make far less than that. Heres the thing, women of color on that spectrum, we make far less than white women, Spencer said. So, if were gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of color to the table.

Its not just evident in stories like the one Taraji P. Henson shared about her meager salary for working on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or MoNiques claim that Netflix offered her $500,000 compared to Amy Schumers $13 million for a comedy special. Its also evident in how we discuss women of color in conversations about diversity. How many times have you read the phrase people of color and women (Ive been guilty of it myself), which implies that women of color dont exist? People of color and women taken literally means people of color and white women. We should start saying people of color and white women if were going to pay respect to women like Spencer, Henson, or even women like Dee Rees when discussing the 2018 Oscar nominations diversity. To say people of color and women singles out women like Greta Gerwig and Emily V. Gordon and erases Rees as a woman of color. But Ive digressed.

Now that Spencer has gotten the respect she deserves in her salary, she ought to be getting the kind of roles that come with it.

Spencer went on to explain that once Chastain realized how high the pay inequality is for women of color in Hollywood, she insisted that her deal was tied to Spencers. According to Spencer, Chastain said, Octavia were gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. Were gonna be favored nations, and were gonna make the same thing. After that, Spencer ended up with five times what she asked for, allowing her to raise her quote. Thats the work of a true ally, with Chastain doing the work instead of talking the talk or merely tweeting about intersectionality in Hollywood. But it also highlights something else: Spencer got five times her salary. Damn, how much was she making before?! A managers salary at Macys?

Im reminded of a 2014 interview Spencer gave to The Daily Beasts Marlow Stern. At that point she was joining the (since canceled) television series The Red Band Society. On why she was moving to television, Spencer said, The roles Im being offered in film are too small to sink your teeth into, and I thought it was time to be able to live with a character at inception and travel with her to fruition, and allow myself to evolve as an actress. I dont get that opportunity in movies, where they ask me, Will you play the distraught mom of this boy? I say, Sure, but Ive played it before. I wanted to play against-type.

Its why first-rate actresses like the aforementioned Henson and Viola Davis have moved to television with Empire and How to Get Away with Murder, respectively. Its why Henson had to beg for her recent film Proud Mary to be promoted overseas.

There are so few roles out there, Spencer said. And even if it is a film that could be led by a black actress, how many times is that film going to get funded? Lets just be real. But its not just black people. Its Asians, its Hispanic people if youre not Salma Hayek. Its hard. Its hard to get films funded. Its a business thing, and you have to change the mindset of people around here. The fact that Think Like A Man made so much moneyover $100 millionbut got very limited worldwide distribution is a problem. Will Smith would not be Worldwide Will Smith if he had not insisted on going worldwide and touring with his films. You have to build that audience for people and allow for it to happen.

Spencer received her third Oscar nomination for her role in The Shape of Water, but shes once again stuck playing the no-nonsense supporting character we saw in The Help (and frankly Hidden Figures, but at least that was a film with an entirely black cast), only this time shes helping Sally Hawkins fuck a fish monster. Now that Spencer has gotten the respect she deserves in her salary, she ought to be getting the kind of roles that come with it.

Let Spencer fuck the damn fish monster herself.

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