Michelle Williams reflects on pay gap controversy with Mark Wahlberg: ‘I found my voice to speak out’

Michelle Williams has said speaking out against the gender pay gap in the film industry is the proudest moment of her life.

In 2019, Williams said she was “paralysed” by “futility” after finding out that she was paid drastically less than her co-star Mark Walberg for the reshoot of All the Money in the World.

Williams was reportedly paid under $1000 while Wahlberg was paid $1.5m (£1.23m)

“No one cared,” said Williams, speaking at a hearing in Washington DC at the time. “This came as no surprise to me, it simply reinforced my life-learned belief that equality is not an inalienable right and that women would always be working just as hard for less money while shouldering more responsibility at home.

“I’ve been a working actress since the age of 12. I’ve been accredited by my industry at the highest levels and that still didn’t translate to equal compensation.”

William’s comments sparked conversation surrounding the gender pay gap in Hollywood.

Her co-star, Wahlberg, later donated his salary to the Time’s Up Legal Defence Fund, which supports people who have been subject to workplace sex discrimination.

The actor has reflected on her role in the conversation during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show on Friday (20 January).

“It is amazing when you find yourself in the middle of something like that and realise everyone is looking to you,” she told host Graham Norton.

Williams continued: “It wound up being an incredible teaching moment because the disparity was so enormous it really shone a light on women being underpaid in the workplace.”

‘When I look back on my life that will be the moment I am most proud of,’ said the actor (Getty Images)
‘When I look back on my life that will be the moment I am most proud of,’ said the actor (Getty Images)

“I found myself as the person most able to talk about it and I think,” she said. “When I look back on my life that will be the moment I am most proud of. I am very shy but found my voice to stand up and speak out.”

The actor was appearing on the show to discuss her new film, The Fabelmans, which is based on director Steven Spielberg’s childhood. Williams plays Speilberg’s mother in the film.

The actor previously used her 2019 Emmy awards acceptance speech for her role in Fosse/Verdon to further speak out against discrimination.

Williams thanked Fox 21 studios for their support, stating:“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.

“And so the next time a woman – and especially a woman of colour, 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.”

She continued: “Believe her. Because one day, she might 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.”

The Graham Norton Show will air on Friday (20 January) on BBC One at 10.40pm.