This is both angering and inspiring at the same time; Robin Wright — aka Claire Underwood, the most fierce woman on television — had to demand Netflix pay her equally to her male costar. Robin Wright! What the actual fork? If ever there were equal counterparts starring together, House of Cards‘ Claire and Frank are them. During her Tuesday speech at the Rockefeller Foundation, Wright related her own incredulity — and triumph. Asked what barriers she’d faced as a woman in Hollywood, Wright said,
I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin.’
It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards.
I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on it. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public.’ And they did.”
That Wright did what she had to do is fanfreakingtastic; but that she had to at all is ridiculous. And, with Netflix? The company that produces series like House of Cards and Jessica Jones (starring and run by female — including Wright — producers, writers, directors), full of powerful women, and which we might imagine is a progressive outlet, wasn’t already paying Wright and Spacey equally? As the actress noted herself, when she first came on board, Wright hadn’t been working full time; she’d been raising her children. But, as anyone who watches House of Cards knows, Wright (nominated for and winner of multiple awards for her role) quickly established herself as Spacey’s equal, and in the series’ third and fourth seasons, the focus on Claire has rightfully intensified. Wright shouldn’t have had to ask for equal pay; Netflix should be ashamed they didn’t offer it. This is exactly the situation Gillian Anderson (and many actresses) found herself in when The X-Files returned to Fox; Anderson spoke out about the network always coming to her with half of what they offer David Duchovny. But, the industry had better wake up and take notice because leading ladies are beyond putting up with inequality. If it takes going public to get course correction, people like Wright and Anderson, and Arquette, Lawrence and Chastain are perfectly willing to do it. Consider yourselves on notice, Hollywood.