Charlize Theron Takes on a New Cause: Equal Pay for Women in Hollywood

Theron is known for her activism for marriage equality, animal rights, and reproductive freedom. Now she wants to end Tinsletown's gender-based pay disparity.

Charlize Theron. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jan 9, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Actor Charlize Theron has been called a throwback to the glory days of Hollywood, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about her latest power move behind the scenes. The star of 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman reportedly negotiated a salary equal to her male costar, Chris Hemsworth, for Universal’s forthcoming prequel, The Hunstman, slated for release in April 2016.

The Oscar winner’s deal to appear as the movie’s villain, Queen Ravenna, is worth more than $10 million, the same as Hemsworth’s, according to PageSix. The negotiation comes in the wake of last month’s Sony hack, which revealed startling disparities between pay for male and female actors. Most famously, the hack exposed that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were both paid less for American Hustle—7 percent of the movie’s total profits—than their male costars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner, who each received 9 percent of the movie’s $27 million profit (that figure was also made public after the Sony hack).

“Charlize insisted that she get paid the same money as Chris,” an anonymous source told PageSix. Named one of the highest-paid actresses of 2013 by Forbes, Theron successfully negotiated the deal (the salary inequality exposed by the Sony hack certainly didn’t hurt her case).

South African–born Theron has been an outspoken activist for an number of causes. She founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project in 2007 to combat HIV/AIDS among young people, served as spokesperson for the United Nations’ Stop Rape Now program and PETA’s anti-fur campaigns, and has been quoted as saying that she won’t get married until everyone in America enjoys equal rights to marriage.

Her latest pay negotiation is more than just a personal victory for her own bank account. It sends a message to Hollywood executives that it’s not OK to pay female actors less than their male counterparts.