Culture

Chris Rock: 'If Jennifer Lawrence Were Black, She’d Really Have Something to Complain About'

Comic and actor highlights yet greater discrepancies for women of colour in Hollywood pay debate.

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 18: Chris Rock poses at the 'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Photocall' during the 65th Cannes Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 18, 2012 in Cannes, France.
Photo Credit: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com

Chris Rock, the stand-up comic and film-maker, has cautioned that the gender pay debate in Hollywood risks overlooking the injustice of black actors being paid less than their white counterparts.

Speaking as part of a profile of the Saturday Night Live actor Leslie Jones in the New Yorker, Rock appeared to take exception to the territory staked out by Jennifer Lawrence, saying that if she wasn’t white, she would have more cause for complaint.

In an essay for Lena Dunham’s Lenny newsletter published in October, the Hunger Games star wrote about her feelings of anger and self-loathing in the wake of the revelations that she and Amy Adams had been paid less than their male co-stars in American Hustle.

“Black women have the hardest gig in show business,” said Rock. “You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman – if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.”

Since the publication of the essay, in which Lawrence expressed exasperation at the apparent inability of society to find her both “adorable” and forthright, the actor has referred to gender parity frequently.

Viola Davis is one of the few women of colour to have had her voice heard in the debate, speaking of both the marginalised movie parts she is offered and the pitiful remittance that often accompanies them. She has even advocated equal-share salaries on long-running TV shows (her go-to medium for meaty roles).

Rock helped secure Jones her SNL position. She will soon be seen as one of the four leads in Paul Feig’s female-fronted Ghostbusters reboot.

 

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