Chris Rock: Forget Jennifer Lawrence; Talk to a Black Actress About Hollywood’s Gender Income Gap

He said that black actresses would trade salaries with Lawrence any day of the week.

Chris Rock in 2015
Chris Rock in 2015 Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Chris Rock is going to bat for black actresses, and he wants to reiterate, as he has time and time again, that they’re at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to which groups have it worst in Hollywood.

“I’ve never done a movie, any movie, the silliest movie, where someone, some studio person, hasn’t gone, ‘Does the girl have to be black?’ It happens every time,” Rock said during an interview with Essence magazine.

Yep, can you believe that? There’s the idea that black actresses aren’t marketable or don’t resonate with audiences as much as ethnically nondescript actresses or white actresses.

Which is sad in and of itself, but also ironic, because they’re cheaper than other actresses: “Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood,” Rock explained.

And even though Jennifer Lawrence kicked up dust about how actresses aren’t paid at the same levels as actors, Rock said that she ought to trade places with a black actress one of these days to see what that inequality feels like when you’ve got a little bit of melanin in your skin.  

“Everybody’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence. Talk to Gabrielle Union. If you want to hear stories, talk to Nia Long. Talk to Kerry Washington. They would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place, or just be treated with the same amount of respect.”

But Rock is all about solutions, and he said he always secures a solid role for a black or brown actress in his films. 

“I think everything I’ve ever done has had a significant role for a black or brown woman. I refuse not to,” he said. “I’ve never gone into battle without a black woman, you know, a movie battle. With Tichina Arnold in Everybody Hates Chris, I had to fight for Tichina. I’m not even going to tell you who the network wanted. She’s literally as good as Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Dreyfus or any of these chicks. They’re like, ‘Tichina who’?’ “

Gasp—how dare studio executives sleep on the genius that is Tichina Arnold? What would Everybody Hates Chris be without her? 

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