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Arts and Entertainment

Hilary Swank Is Frustrated That Hollywood Actresses Make Way Less Than Actors

Hilary Swank (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Sharp Electronics)
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Hilary Swank is speaking out about gender inequality in Hollywood: it turns out that on top of there not being enough interesting roles for women, even the high-flying, high-earning actresses are making much less than their male counterparts.

The actress spoke to students at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television last week as part of an interview series, The Hollywood Masters, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Million Dollar Baby actress talked about the parts of the film industry she was frustrated with—especially the gender disparity.

"Well it's just I'm just saying it's just, it's a business and, you know, why my male counterpart will get paid 10 times more than me," Swank said. "10 times. Not double, but 10 times for the same job."

While we weren't able to find the "10 times" statistic Swank offered, Forbes did release a report that showed female film actresses make about half of what their male counterparts do. Forbes looked at the highest earning actors and actresses between June 2013 and June 2014, and found that the total pay for top ten male actors made up $419 million, while the top ten female actresses made a total of almost half of that: $226 million. Robert Downey Jr. was at the top of the male actors list with $75 million, while Sandra Bullock was the highest-paid female actor at $51 million.

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During the interview, Swank also talked about the lack of compelling roles for women. "It's also the fact that I'm, I mean, we, there's two genders on this Earth," she said. "Both are compelling, interesting, diverse, wonderful in all their own separate ways. Some that are similar, some that are not. And yet there's an influx of male roles and there's just not for women."

She described her latest leading role in the Western drama, The Homesman, as a "feminist movie." The film, which Tommy Lee Jones directed, co-wrote and starred in, follows Swank's character Mary Bee Cuddy as she travels through the harsh and unforgiving prairie from Nebraska to Iowa in the mid-1800s to take three mentally ill women to a church to get help.

"It's about the objectification and trivialization of women and it takes place in the mid-1800s," Swank said. "But us women know exactly what that feels like right now in 2014 — talking about gay, lesbian, transgender issues and how far they've come … yet how far we still need to go. How great that Tommy Lee Jones, this person that people see as this rough man, is at the helm of telling this feminist story."

Swank's comments about the feminist leanings of the film start around the 4-minute mark (though her discussion of the pay gap wasn't included):

Being an actress also means that your window for making big bucks is much smaller. According to a study from the Journal of Management Inquiry that was released earlier this year, they pointed out the harsh reality that when female actresses get older, their pay dramatically decreases, while the opposite happens for men, Variety reported. Researchers studied the compensation of 265 film female and male actors received from 1968 to 2008. While film actresses in their 20s earn more than their male counterparts, they found that female movie actresses hit their pay peak at 34 before their compensation dramatically drops. However, male actors hit their peak at 51, and although their pay drops in the ensuing years, it's at a much more gradual and slower rate than women.

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