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

Actress Amy Adams has been mistakenly painted as keeping mum on gender pay inequality — when, in fact, she was trying to do the opposite.

After being criticized for not being more vocal about the gender pay gap when it was revealed that she and co-star Jennifer Lawrence were making significantly less than their male counterparts in "American Hustle," Adams set the record straight.

Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for IFP.


In a telling interview, Adams revealed that to her, there are more important gender wage gap issues to talk about.

"Everyone wanted me to talk about how I felt about it, but I want to fight for people outside our industry, so to come out and look ungrateful about what I'm paid as an actress just didn't feel right," Adams told The Telegraph.

Having taken home $11.5 million in 2017, Adams makes substantially more than teachers and domestic workers, not to mention doctors and lawyers.

"I do believe in equal pay, but let's start with our teachers," Adams added. "Let's get waiters paid the minimum wage. That's what's great about what's happening with Time's Up — we're starting to have bigger conversations than just about what's happening in Hollywood."

Adams' point rings painfully true: White women across industries make, on average, 80 cents to the white male dollar — and those numbers are much worse for black and Latinx women.

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Latinx women make 54 cents for every dollar that a white man makes, and black women are not expected to see equal pay until 2124.

Yes, that's more than a hundred years from now.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

The dialogue around wage issues and pay inequity across race and industry is growing.

As teachers across the U.S. march for higher pay and school funding, immigrant restaurant workers strike for livable wages, and activists across the country demand that the minimum wage be raised to meet an unreal inflation rate, Adams' point about centering these voices is important.

Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images.

That doesn't mean that women in Hollywood can't or shouldn't fight for equal pay too.

Just because one makes a sizable income doesn't mean they're not allowed to decry patriarchal pay standards. Well-known women like Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, Mindy Kaling, and Tracee Ellis Ross are on the frontlines of the pay gap in Hollywood, and they've spoken out for women in their and other industries as well.

"I went to my boss at the time and I said everybody needs a raise," Winfrey once told Time magazine. "And he said, 'Why?' He actually said to me, 'They're only girls. They're a bunch of girls — what do they need more money for?' I go, 'Well, either they're going to get raises, or I'm going to sit down.' I will not work unless they get paid.'"

Whether Adams will become more vocal about the gender pay gap in Hollywood specifically remains to be seen, but she certainly deserves applause for offering some much-needed truth-telling on the importance of centering society's most vulnerable in the discussion of pay inequity.

Let's continue raising our voices in our own ways to make sure change happens for everyone.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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