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Claire Foy Made Less Than Matt Smith While Playing Queen Elizabeth in The Crown

The recent statement by The Crown producers that Claire Foy was paid less than co-star Matt Smith during the first two seasons has once more sparked outrage over the gender pay gap in the film and TV industry.

The reasoning behind the pay difference between Foy and Smith was stated as being because Smith – at the time of casting – had more prominence from his role on Doctor Who.

What doesn’t add up was that Foy was the show’s main character – the lead who had the most lines and the most screen time. Despite this, she still earned less money than her male supporting actor even throughout the second season of the show.

During her tenure as lead for Netflix’s hit series, Foy was nominated for nine individual awards and won three for her role as Queen Elizabeth II. Smith was nominated once but didn’t win.

Though Crown producers Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries have stated that going forward “no one will get paid more than the Queen,” the damage has been done for their pre-time-jump Queen Elizabeth II.

This latest reveal doesn’t bode well for the streaming giant as a whole, either. Earlier this year, comedian and actress Mo’Nique criticized Netflix for paying black women less than male and white comedians on their platform.

Across the industry itself, 2016 saw Shameless star Emmy Rossum locked in pay negotiations with Showtime producers after she demanded pay parity with co-star William H. Macy.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Last year, it was reported that Michelle Williams was paid $80 a day for reshoots of All The Money In The World while Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5M. Though Wahlberg ended up donating his payment to the Time’s Up legal fund for sexual harassment and abuse victims, the fact that an actress was paid significantly less than an actor for the same reshoots says a lot about the ingrained sexism in Hollywood. It shows that despite spouts of progressivism, tradition still lingers behind the scenes.

Equal pay shouldn’t be about being paid more than a man, it should be about being paid fairly and not just on the basis of prominence, but on the importance of the role. Obviously, the Queen is the main character in The Crown. Foy accrued the most screen time, lines, costume changes, and recognition during award seasons, yet she was still paid less than Smith.

“Netflix pride themselves on disrupting the television we watch: they’ve made blockbusting dramas to be streamed whenever we like on smartphones, and become a genuine threat to the establishment at every awards ceremony going,” said the Telegraph. “If any studio could be the one to break with Hollywood’s decades-old tradition of keeping actresses worse off, it should be them.”

Actresses in leading roles put in the work for the project – they should be paid fairly for their contributions.

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