Somewhere between filming the final “Hunger Games” movie, another turn as Mystique in the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse” and one more starring role for David O. Russell in “Joy,” Jennifer Lawrence opted for something completely different: the big-budget sci-fi romance “Passengers.” The movie is notable for various reasons — it’s not a tentpole! Or sequel! Or reboot! But, for Lawrence, it’s important in another sense. Her salary is $20 million, which is a lot of dough, but especially compared to the $12 million her co-star Chris Pratt is making.
What a difference a year makes. During the Sony hack, e-mails were leaked that described the pay structure for “American Hustle.” Russell, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Christian Bale all made more than Lawrence and her co-star, Amy Adams. “Passengers” also happens to be a Sony movie, so they may have owed her. Or maybe Lawrence is just taking to heart what the company’s former co-chairman Amy Pascal said when the disparity caused an uproar:
“People want to work for less money, I’ll pay them less money. I don’t call them up and say, ‘Can I give you some more?’ Because that’s not what you do when you run a business. The truth is, what women have to do is not work for less money. They have to walk away. People shouldn’t be so grateful for jobs. … People should know what they’re worth.”
Now Lawrence is opening up about how she felt after the to-do. In an essay for the newsletter Lenny, the actress — charming and straight-talking as ever — admitted that she sort of blamed herself when she found out how much less she was being paid than “the lucky people with d—s.”
“I didn’t get mad at Sony,” she wrote. “I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”
But she also realizes that her shortcomings as a negotiator are rooted in her aversion to being difficult. She was worried what people would think of her if she played hardball, and she didn’t want to seem “spoiled.”
Lawrence reminds us in her essay that her problems are not entirely relatable to all women, given that she’s an A-list Oscar winner pulling in tens of millions of dollars a year. But she’s once again shortchanging herself. Even if she’s a one-percenter, her experience aligns with recent stories about the difficulties women face when negotiating salaries and raises. Female employees shy away from asking for more, and it turns out they have a reason to. According to Planet Money, managers of both sexes are less likely to want to work with women who negotiate during an interview.
This news might make women even less likely to bargain. But by sharing her story, Lawrence proves the benefits of learning to be a tough negotiator. She’s pushed against her tendency to be a people-pleaser, and it’s working, even if her newfound ability to speak her mind sometimes shocks the men around her — including one of her own employees, who told Lawrence, “Woah! We’re all on the same team.” (Let’s hope he receives the newsletter.)
“I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! F— that,” she writes. And that’s how America’s sweetheart drops the mic.