Watch Michelle Williams' positive, impassioned Emmy speech on women and equal pay

"Listen to her. Believe her."

Twitter / The Hollywood Reporter

Actress Michelle Williams earned a standing ovation for her acceptance speech at the 2019 Emmy Awards, both in the Microsoft Theater in L.A. and among viewers online.

As she accepted her first Emmy award for Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie for her role in FX's "Fosse/Verdon," she praised the studios who produced the show for supporting her in everything she needed for the role—including making sure she was paid equitably.


"I see this as an acknowledgment of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feel safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they'll be heard," she said.

She explained how being provided what she needed in order to do her job empowered her to do it well. "When I asked for more dance classes, I heard 'yes,'" she said. "More voice lessons, 'yes.' A different wig, a pair of fake teeth not made out of rubber, 'yes.'"

"All of these things, they require effort and they cost more money," she said. "But my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon."

RELATED: Why Amy Adams' silence on equal pay in Hollywood speaks volumes for workers' rights

They also supported her with equal pay, she said, a shout out that prompted nods and cheers from her fellow actors and actresses.

"And so I want to say, thank you so much to FX and to Fox 21 studios for supporting me completely and for paying me equally because 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 color—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. 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 gender pay gap in Hollywood has been well-documented. A 2016 Forbes article broke it down in detail, sharing how female stars are consistently paid less than male stars.

"The earnings disparity is even worse for women of color," the article states. "While, on average, women in this country make an average of 78% of their male counterparts, African American and Native American women make 64 cents and 59 cents, respectively, for every dollar made by white men, and Hispanic women earn just 56 cents to a white man's dollar."

RELATED: When she learned about the wage gap, she didn't whine. She did something about it.

Statistics are naturally varied, as studies vary in how they determine pay equity. Some studies show a smaller gap, while others show larger ones. But one thing is clear: It doesn't seem to be getting better. For example, a 2018 study showed that women across the board earn 49 cents for every dollar men earn. A more recent Forbes article states that the top 10 highest paid actresses made just 30 cents on the dollar compared to the top 10 highest paid actors.

It's easy to point to the high salaries of famous people and ask why they would ever complain. But inequity is inequity, regardless of industry. Good for Michelle Williams for celebrating her positive experience with this show and imploring other studios to follow that example.

Watch her speech here:

popular
via KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Travelling during the holiday season can be a hectic experience. Airports are busy, people tend to be bogged down by extra extra luggage filled with gifts, and the weather is terrible so flight delays are common.

People can be stuck for hours in a terminal waiting for their flights, many of them alone as they travel to see family or make an end-of-the-year-business trip.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via TK2LDCNews / Twitter

For the first time since the annual holiday production began in 1954, the lead role of Marie in The New York City Ballet's production of "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker," is a black ballerina.

Eleven-year-old Charlotte Nebres, whose mother's family is from Trinidad and father's is from the Philippines, is a student at the School of American Ballet.

The leading role of the young heroine is known as Marie in the New York City Ballet's production, in others the young girl who dreams The Nutcracker to live is called Clara.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Despite controversial-but-compelling evidence that homework takes time away from families with little to no appreciable benefit for students, kids continue to slog through hours of school work outside the time they spend in the classroom. And despite evidence that small acts of kindness can infect a community like a positive virus, far too many kids are on either the giving or receiving end of unkind bullying on a regular basis.

Perhaps that's why an elementary school in Ireland has decided to do something radical—ditch all homework for the month of December and assign kids "acts of kindness" instead.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Brace yourselves, folks, because this is almost too friggin' adorable to handle.

A 911 call can be a scary thing, and an emergency call from a dad having chest pains and trouble breathing is no exception. But thankfully, an exchange between that dad's 5-year-old daughter and 911 dispatcher Jason Bonham turned out to be more humor than horror. If you missed hearing the recording that has repeatedly gone viral since 2010, you have to hear it now. It's perfectly timeless.

Keep Reading Show less
popular