The film awards season is back, along with its annual headlines about gender inequality and lack of representation. Women have barely been recognized at this year's Oscars, with 80 percent of the nominations in non-acting categories going to men. But behind the statistics lie the personal stories of women who are frustrated by the lack of progress in their industry, and many of them now feel compelled to take action and speak out.
Action movie actress Yancy Butler, Artemis Women In Action Film Festival co-founder Melanie Wise, director and spearhead of the American Civil Liberties Union's investigation into Hollywood's discrimination Maria Giese, and Orange Is the New Black star Alysia Reiner, have all had wildly different experiences throughout their careers. However, their encounters share much in common.
Since the 2014 Sony email hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was being paid less than her American Hustle co-stars Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper, the subject of gender inequality often focuses on the abyss in pay. But this conversation still remains taboo within the industry. "People don't talk about their salaries, and I don't know why it's such a shameful thing," Yancy Butler says.
The actress' filmography is dominated by action roles where she's performed her own stunts. Since the start of Butler's career in the 90s, she has fought, parachuted, and somersaulted alongside Wesley Snipes, Jean Claude Van Damme, and more recently in both Kick-Ass movies. "In one particular instance I happened to work with a guy several times and I just straight up asked, 'I'm very curious what they're paying you?' It was double the amount they were paying me for something he was doing less work on. It was disheartening."
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