Viola Davis Says Pay Her Like You Pay White Women

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Viola Davis is sick of Hollywood’s shit.

The accomplished actress is a Juilliard graduate who has won an Oscar, a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Award, a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy, five SAG Awards and two Tonys. She has been called “the black Meryl Streep,” but when it comes to job opportunities and pay in Hollywood, Davis says that’s where the comparisons stop.


At the Women in the World Los Angeles Salon in Hollywood on Tuesday, Davis told Tina Brown: “People say, ‘You’re a black Meryl Streep … we love you. There is no one like you.’ OK, then if there is no one like me, you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth.

“We get probably a 10th of what a Caucasian woman gets,” she continued. “I’m No. 1 on the call sheet, and then I have to go in and I have to hustle for my worth. That’s what I feel like I am doing, and I have more than a 30-year professional career.”

Davis added: “I have a career that’s probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver. They all came out of Yale. They came out of Juilliard. They came out of [New York University]. They had the same path as me, and yet I am nowhere near them. Not as far as money. Not as far as job opportunities. Nowhere close to it.”

Davis said that even when it comes to roles, she gets offered things like “the third girl from the left,” and not the big roles she is looking for. She said that she is no longer going to hustle to prove herself: “I’m not doing that anymore. I’m not hustling for my worth. I’m worthy. When I came out of my mother’s womb, I came out worthy.”


News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.



People say, ‘You’re a black Meryl Streep … we love you. 

There’s something disturbing in the idea that Davis’ talents and being can’t be measured unless it’s got a white (mainstream) identity attached to it.

She’s worthy enough to to be described without this.