For The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, held Nov. 11, the magazine asked Mary J. Blige, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Jennifer Lawrence, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Stone to talk about their experiences in Hollywood—good and bad. And, given the number of high-profile men accused of sexual abuse and harassment, the six actresses had a lot to discuss.
"The entertainment industry is kind of the stage on which you can see the inner workings of problems that are all over the world," said Lawrence, who won an Oscar in 2013. "If a flight attendant comes forward about a pilot, it doesn't end up in the news because nobody knows about it. That doesn't mean that there's less sexual abuse going on anywhere else in the world, in any other place of work," she argues. "But fortunately, we're starting the conversation now."
Lawrence hopes that "eventually" the culture will change. "I think it's going to be a while. It's deeply ingrained, unfortunately. It's kind of this social proof in some way of your masculinity."
Though she's currently the highest paid actress in Hollywood, Lawrence started a discussion about wage inequality in a Lenny Letter, after a Sony hack revealed she and Amy Adams made less than their male American Hustle co-stars. Today, she says, "It's much easier for me now to be paid fairly. The reason I spoke out about it was really—we're in the industry, everybody is looking at us, if we're going through this, every woman in the world is going through this. But the real problem is the normalization of it. It's the reason why your agents don't think twice about paying you a third of your [co-star's salary] because it's been so normalized for so long."
It's not the only instance of sexism Lawrence has faced on set. "I've had this happen: I finally made the decision to stand up for myself, and then I went to go to the bathroom at work and one of the producers stopped me and was like, 'You know, we can hear you on the microphone; you've been really unruly.' Which was not true, but basically my job was threatened because the director said something f--ked up to me and I said, 'That's sick, you can't talk to me like that,' and then I was punished, and I got afraid that I wasn't going to be hired again," she says. Without naming the director in question, she recalls, "I was called 'difficult' and a 'nightmare.'"
For reasons like that, Lawrence says, "I think a lot of people aren't coming forward because they're afraid they're not going to work again. You need to be able to say, 'This is wrong,' and have somebody do something about it, instead of saying, 'Oh, it's wrong? Well, you're fired.'"
Pick up the Nov. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter for more from its Actress Roundtable.