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More than 3,000 sign open letter against gender pay gap for entertainment production workers

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay is listed as one of many Hollywood players who signed a union-backed open letter against pay disparities for below-the-line workers.
(Joel C Ryan / Invision/AP)

More than 3,000 people, including multiple prominent actors, directors and producers, have signed an open letter calling on the entertainment industry to end what activists describe as a vast pay gap between male and female production workers.

Those who signed the letter included “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, “Crazy Rich Asians” producer Nina Jacobson and “This Is Us” actor Sterling K. Brown, according to the list of names posted online by the document’s backers.

The letter — spearheaded by IATSE Local 871 and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and Women in Film — also lists Jane Fonda, Rosanna Arquette, Don Cheadle and Charlie Day as having signed.

A June study commissioned by Local 871, which represents below-the-line craftspeople who work on movie and TV sets, found that female-dominated craft professions such as script supervisors and art department coordinators receive far less per week than their counterparts in comparable male-dominated crafts.


The letter cites the California Fair Pay Act, which prohibits employers from paying women less than they pay men for substantially similar work.

“It’s time for the entertainment industry to take a hard look at its pay and compensation practices above and below the line to make sure all productions meet the legal — and moral — requirement to pay fairly without discrimination,” the letter said.

The union’s study said script supervisors (92% of whom are female) received lower minimum rates than those of first assistant directors and second assistant directors, both of which are fields dominated by men.

Script supervisors earned weekly scale rates of $2,573 in 2016, versus $4,465 for first assistant directors and $3,101 for second assistant directors on TV projects, the study said.


The report also found that sexual harassment and other forms of gender bias are prevalent in these professions. It said 52% of Local 871’s female members responding to the survey said that they experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace in the last three years.

The study and letter come as Hollywood grapples with gender discrimination issues and the #MeToo movement, spawned by numerous complaints of sexual misconduct by ex-mogul Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile media figures.

Twitter: @rfaughnder