Hollywood’s wage gap hits home with Xavier students

The wage gap's affects on the entertainment industry, Emma Stone, and Xavier's aspiring artists.

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Hollywood’s wage gap hits home with Xavier students

Xavier student Gabby Vatistas '17 performs in Brophy/Xavier Spring Musical,

Xavier student Gabby Vatistas '17 performs in Brophy/Xavier Spring Musical, "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." Photo by Nate Kerber, BCP '19

Xavier student Gabby Vatistas '17 performs in Brophy/Xavier Spring Musical, "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." Photo by Nate Kerber, BCP '19

Xavier student Gabby Vatistas '17 performs in Brophy/Xavier Spring Musical, "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." Photo by Nate Kerber, BCP '19

Abbey Alexander, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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As educated young women, the wage gap is not a new concept to any of us. I am sure you have read articles, seen news stories and probably heard other women’s personal accounts of the issue.

According to Americanprogress.org, as of 2014, women earn 79 cents for every dollar made by a man. If that is not striking enough, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there are only about five occupations in which women make more than men on average.

The wage gap seems to be affecting everyone, in every single industry, such as law, journalism, medicine, higher level education and politics. So why is it such a surprise for so many people to learn that the wage gap has been making a lasting affect on the careers and lives of women in the entertainment business for quite some time now?

It has to do with the stigma that comes with women in Hollywood. There is something about the image of a gorgeous Hollywood superstar, gliding in a designer gown across a red carpet that makes them seem invincible. How could these people possibly have anything wrong with their lives? But the truth is, women in Hollywood are not untouchable. Sure, most of the actresses we see on the big screen are still earning millions of dollars, but they are also earning millions of dollars less than their male co-stars.

Of course the issue hits home to Xavier in that it is a school filled with bright young women who one day, too, could be affected by the wage gap. However, there is one more connection between the Hollywood wage gap and Xavier’s students that may come as a surprise.

Emma Stone is one of Xavier’s most notable former students, and for good reason. The 28 year old actress has starred in blockbuster films such as “Easy A,” “Zombieland,” “Crazy Stupid Love,” “The Amazing Spider Man,” and “LaLa Land.” She has appeared on countless talk shows, hosted Saturday Night Live multiple times and won both a Golden Globe (Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical), as well as an Academy Award (Best Actress in a Leading Role).

So it was no surprise for anyone when the news came out in a Vanity fair article that Stone was officially the highest paid actress of 2017. The shocking part, however, was that the 14 highest paid male actors of 2017 all made more than her. Stone’s annual salary, coming in at a whopping $26 million, seems almost miniscule in comparison to Mark Whalberg’s $68 million. Below the top-ranked Whalberg, Dwayne Johnson was second with $68 million, Vin Diesel was next with $54.5 million, Adam Sandler followed with $50.5 million and Jackie Chan was also at the top making $49 million in 2017. Emma Stone’s “LaLa Land” co-star and onscreen boyfriend, Ryan Gosling, made $29 million and he did not win an Oscar.

Because of these issues and the connection to Xavier, I sat down with sophomore Kyra Klonoski to ask her about her thoughts on the wage gap, and how it could affect her, as well as other girls, in life after Xavier.

Klonoski (center) performs in Brophy/Xavier Fall Play, “The Laramie Project.” Photo by Nate Kerber, BCP ’19

Klonoski has been involved in the arts for years now and plans on continuing this passion long after high school and college. My first question for her was regarding Emma Stone’s role in the issue. Was it plain sexism, or was there a different explanation for her situation? She said, “It’s plain sexism, and there’s no excuse for it. Despite the outer coating Hollywood puts on these actors lives making it seem like a breeze they actually put in hard work, and personally I’ve noticed that women often have to work harder in the industry.”

Klonoski isn’t too concerned about the wage gap’s effect on her career farther down the road, but she realizes that she will deal with sexism in the industry. “I personally don’t see money as a huge issue, but of course I do worry. I am very aware of the sexism that exists in the entertainment industry so I recognize and accept that I will have to work harder to reach my goals.”

The wage gap is not just a 79 cent to a dollar difference anymore. Thankfully, women and men everywhere are becoming more and more aware of the problem and fighting for equality.

Change will not come overnight, and there is still a long way to go, but a world where men and women are paid the same is feasible and hopefully in the near future.

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