Emmy Rossum is demanding equal pay on 'Shameless.' And she really means equal.

In Showtime's "Shameless," Fiona is the feisty oldest daughter of the Gallagher family — the level-headed one, the one who seems to keep everyone else in check.

Judging by new reports about Emmy Rossum, the actress who brings Fiona to life each season, it appears reality is starting to mirror fiction.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.


Before she commits to returning for the show's eighth season, Rossum is demanding equal pay for her role. And that's not all.

According to Variety, Rossum has already been offered the same pay as her male co-star, William H. Macy, who plays her dad in the show. But she's also seeking some retroactive equal-pay justice, so to speak.

As Variety reports (emphasis added):

"Rossum is demanding equal pay with Macy, after seven seasons of being paid less than him, according to a report published earlier today by the Hollywood Reporter. A source tells Variety she has in fact been offered equal pay. But she is holding out for a bigger salary than Macy to make up for the previous seasons where she was making significantly less than him."

While Rossum's demands may come across as excessive to some, they really ... aren't. Just look at her value to the show.

Rossum — whose critically acclaimed performance as Fiona has snagged two Critics' Choice Awards — plays such an integral role in the series that the network hasn't even considered the option of moving on without her. Rossum even directed episodes of the series this past season.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CDG.

While Macy was arguably the bigger star when the series began in 2011, "Shameless" wasn't Rossum's first big break — she'd already appeared in "Mystic River," starred in 2004's blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow" alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and garnered rave reviews for 2004's "Phantom of the Opera."

Rossum's request to be back-paid equally for her performance in earlier seasons would set a significant precedent in helping to close the gender pay gap in Hollywood.

A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence, Robin Wright, and Patricia Arquette have helped elevate the conversation in Hollywood — an extension of broader pay inequality that exists between men and women across virtually all industries, a gap that's even more stark when you're a person of color.

Viola Davis, currently starring in ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder," has spoken out about how women of color are further affected by systemic sexism in Tinseltown (again, reflecting an injustice felt far beyond Hollywood).

Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Variety.

Speaking to Mashable, Davis explained how she's personally affected by the issue (emphasis added):

"I believe in equal pay, first of all. I’m sorry, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should be paid the same amount of money. She just should. ... But at the same time, with me as an actress of color, I have to say to probably contradict myself, that’s not something I think about on a daily basis. Because the struggle for us as women of color is just to be seen the same as our white female counterparts."

Hollywood's certainly got its work cut out.

Closing Hollywood's pay gap may seem unimportant to everyday people, seeing as we're debating how many millions these celebs make. But it's not.

Dollar signs aside, any kind of inequality is indicative of a broader issue. If Hollywood's A-listers can help push this conversation forward, its ripple effect will affect all of us.

When Jennifer Lawrence spoke out last year on the discrimination she faced, for instance, it touched on a much bigger point, as Alicia Adamczyk noted in Time:

"If one of the biggest celebrities of the moment, of either sex, can’t pull down as much as her male co-stars for the same job," she asked, "what does it say about how we value any woman’s work?"

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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