Jennifer Lawrence Is Among the Highest-Paid Actors, but Hollywood Still Can’t Hack the Gender Pay Gap

A closer look at the annual ‘Forbes’ ranking shows women’s salaries still lag behind.

Jennifer Lawrence. (Photo: Raymond Hall/Getty Images)

Aug 20, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.
She plays the hunter heroine Katniss Everdeen. He plays the superhero engineer Tony Stark. It’s not surprising that Jennifer Lawrence and Robert Downey Jr., the stars of two of the must lucrative movie franchises in recent years—The Hunger Games and Iron Man—are also the highest-paid actors of 2015. It’s the gap between their salaries that’s astonishing.
Lawrence just took first place in Forbes’ annual ranking of Hollywood’s top female earners, raking in an estimated pretax income of $52 million over the last 12 months. It’s an impressive payday for the 25-year-old, who became the poster girl for pay inequality when last year’s Sony hack revealed she was paid less than her male costars for their work in American Hustle.
But despite Lawrence’s new title as the highest-paid female actor—and the second-highest-paid actor in the world—women’s salaries still lag far behind those of their male counterparts in Hollywood. Lawrence’s income is colossal, but it’s just 65 percent of what Downey took home over the same 12-month period: $80 million, according to Forbes.

It’s not just Downey who earned a massive paycheck for his Iron Man star power. The three next top-earning male actors—Jackie Chan, Vin Diesel, and American Hustle star Bradley Cooper—averaged a salary of $46 million. To put it in perspective, that’s about $10 million more than the salary of the second-top-earning female actor, Downey’s Avengers: Age of Ultron costar Scarlett Johansson. Consider that the 10 top-earning male actors of 2015 earned a total of $43.1 million, or just about double the total amount of the highest-paid female actors.

In the months since the Sony hack of December 2014, some women in Hollywood have begun rallying for change. Charlize Theron reportedly demanded equal pay for a role opposite Chris Hemsworth, and actors from Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda to Amanda Seyfried have publicly spoken out about the ways they’ve been short-changed compared with male actors. Lawrence herself even negotiated a salary nearly twice that of her male costar Chris Pratt for an upcoming sci-fi film.
When asked to address pay inequality at a women’s conference earlier this year, former Sony executive Amy Pascal defended her company, arguing that it was just that: a business. Her solution? “Know what you’re worth,” she said. That may be easy for blockbuster stars such as Theron and Lawrence, but the Forbes ranking suggests pay inequality is a systemic problem that even a heroine like Katniss Everdeen can’t solve on her own.