Closing The Gap

Netflix paid 'The Crown' star Claire Foy less than her male co-star, producers admit

Claire Foy as  Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown a Netflix Original
Source: Robert Viglasky | Netflix
Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown a Netflix Original

During a recent panel discussion at the INTV conference in Jerusalem, producers of the popular Netflix series "The Crown" admitted to paying actress Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth, less than her male co-star Matt Smith, who plays Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip.

According to Vanity Fair, "the producers acknowledged that [Smith] did make more due to his 'Doctor Who' fame, but that they would rectify that for the future."

"Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen," added producer Suzanne Mackie.

However, with every role on the show being re-cast for its third season, Foy will not have a shot at receiving equal pay for her work.

The Crown, Netflix original series
Source: Alex Bailey | Netflix
The Crown, Netflix original series

The series' gender pay gap, while shocking, is hardly uncommon for the entertainment industry. Earlier this year, it was reported that actor Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million to reshoot scenes for "All the Money in the World," while four-time Academy Award-nominee Michelle Williams was paid less than $1,000. Last year, Natalie Portman revealed that her co-star Ashton Kutcher was paid three times more than she was for their 2011 romantic comedy "No Strings Attached."

"Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar," she said in a 2017 interview with Marie Claire UK. "In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar."

In February, Vanity Fair broke down the Hollywood quote system that governs how much actors earn, and noted that the industry's gender pay disparity is, in part, the result of pay being based on how much an individual was paid for previous projects.

Before "The Crown," Foy was a fairly unknown actress, while Smith had played BBC's famed "Doctor Who." But basing actors' compensation on they earned for previous projects can perpetuate a cycle in which women are underpaid over the full span of their careers. Foy earned an estimated $40,000 per episode, despite the fact that the series had a $7 million per episode budget, and it was Foy's head upon which the titular crown came to rest.

Though gender-based compensation issues in entertainment are not always analogous to the wider workforce, the challenge of ongoing underpayment of some workers is one that persists across industries. Last year, New York City joined a short list of places that banned employers from asking candidates about their previous salaries in an effort to narrow the gap.

"Women and people of color deserve to be paid what they're worth, not held back by their current or previous salary," said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis. "[This] law will enable job seekers to negotiate a fair salary based on their skills and will help break the cycle of income inequality that has been so prevalent in the workforce for so long."

For anyone in or outside of Hollywood who is asked about their current salary, career coach Nicole Hill Orisich offers advice on how to properly answer the question while still leaving room for negotiation.

She tells CNBC Make It that during an interview, a candidate should shift their answer to focus more on the skills they can offer. According to Orisich, an applicant should say something like, "I'd love to talk about the value I bring to the table as well as the market value for this position. Based on my own research for someone with my skills in this industry, I believe market rate is somewhere between X and Y. I would be happy with something in this range."

By negotiating your next job with insight on how much other people in your industry are making, hiring mangers will know that you understand your value and are expected to be paid fairly for your work.

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