How Ellen Pompeo, Gabrielle Union and More Fierce Women Are Breaking Down Hollywood Barriers

Gina Rodriguez and Emma Roberts also discuss fair pay, diversity and more with PorterEdit

By Mike Vulpo Nov 16, 2018 6:19 PMTags
Ellen Pompeo, Gabrielle Union, Gina Rodriguez, Emma Roberts, PorterEditMatthew Sprout for PorterEdit

There's no doubt that working in television has never been more exciting.

With more networks and platforms than ever before, Hollywood's biggest stars are finding clever and unique opportunities to explore the small screen.

But according to some talented actresses, TV still doesn't measure up on equality, diversity and opportunity for women.

In Net-A-Porter's weekly digital magazine PorterEdit, Gabrielle Union, Ellen Pompeo, Gina Rodriguez and Emma Roberts come together to discuss the television landscape. And spoiler alert: They are determined to break down barriers and have their voices heard. For starters, their needs to be fair pay regardless of gender.  

"I've taken less money knowing I'm taking less than a male costar, because they're telling me this is as much as we're going to give you; your male costar is getting more, if you don't take this deal, another girl will," Emma revealed. "And I take it because I'm so passionate [about the project]. I was embarrassed to tell my friends, because what if my girlfriends are making as much money as their male costars."

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Matthew Sprout for PorterEdit

Gina added, "I've recently been faced with being offered a project where my fellow actress was offered it prior [to me], and she tells me how much she was getting paid for it, and then I ask for the same amount and they say no because you're not worth that much, and she was because she's bigger than I am. But it's the same job, the same amount of hours."

While fair pay is one struggle in the industry, diversity and inclusivity is another issue every actor should pay attention to.

"As Caucasian people, it's our job, it's our task, it's our responsibility to make sure that we speak up in every single room we walk into, [to say] that this is not okay and that we can all do better. It's our job, because we've created the problem," Ellen explained. "When I show up on set, I would like to see the crew look like the world that I walk around in every day, and I think it's up to all productions to make sure that your crew looks like the world we see. It's the first thing I notice when I walk in a room."

Gabrielle continued, "The people in front of and behind the cameras need to match the target audience."

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Perhaps an argument can be made that not enough people are speaking up on the important issues.

But when it comes to these successful ladies, they can't help but use their voice to bring good.

"I feel extremely listened to as a woman on set. Very empowered. Very respected. Jane the Virgin is female-led—70% female writers, 70% female cast, 70% female directors—so it's very common to see women in high-powered positions on our show," Gina explained. "I know that's not common, so I don't take that for granted. At all."

For Gabrielle, she feels "empowered as f--k" on the set of L.A.'s Finest with Jessica Alba and showrunner Pam Veasey in charge.

"Women have been multitasking since the beginning of time, and to think that we couldn't magically do that on a Hollywood set and create the most efficient, effective, successful production? Y'all are late," she proclaimed. "We've been doing this. We're not missing a beat."