Actress Michelle Williams received a standing ovation for her acceptance speech at last Sunday’s Emmys, in which she advocated for equal pay and thanked her bosses for paying her equally to her male co-star. Williams received the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Fosse/Verdon.
“I see this as an acknowledgment of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feel safe enough to voice them and respected enough that they’ll be heard,” Williams said. “When I asked for more dance classes, I heard, ‘Yes,’ more voice lessons, ‘Yes,’ a different wig, a pair of fake teeth not made out of rubber, ‘Yes.’ And all of these things, they require effort and they cost more money but my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon.”
Williams continued, “I wanted to say thank you so much to FX and to Fox 21 studios for supporting me completely and paying me equally because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. And then where do they put that value? They put it into their work.”
She continued, “And so the next time a woman, and especially a woman of color – because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart – tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her. Because one day she may stand in front of you and say ‘Thank you’ for allowing her to succeed – because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.”
Williams’ speech and her victory was especially sweet considering the past. Williams has been on the radar about equal pay before – in 2017, it was revealed that her costar in All the Money in the World, Mark Wahlberg, was paid $1.5 million for reshoots, while she was paid at SAG union scale, adding up to less than $1,000.