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Why Mark Wahlberg Donated $1.5 Million to Time’s Up

Mark Wahlberg can easily be known for his career as an actor, producer, and restaurateur at the front of the Wahlburger’s franchise. Recently, he co-starred in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, which recently spent some time in the media due to its hasty (and incredulous) reshoots, caused by disgraced star Kevin Spacey’s involvement. Wahlberg’s latest move was to donate $1.5M to the Time’s Up Legal Defense fund – which provides funds to women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace – in the name of his co-star, Michelle Williams.

The act may seem gratuitous and generous, if one doesn’t look at it too closely. However, soon after the completion of the reshoot, an ugly reminder of the inequality between men and women’s salaries arose in the exact form of that $1.5M: it was the amount Wahlberg had been paid to reshoot the movie scenes. Williams, on the other hand, was paid almost nothing to do the reshoots – giving up her holiday and receiving only $1,000 for her reworked scenes.

Before the pay gap was revealed, Scott had said in an interview with USA Today that one of the expedients to the movie’s turnaround had been that the crew had done it for nothing. “I wouldn’t get paid, I refused to get paid,” the director said. “They all came in free. Christopher had to get paid. But Michelle, no. Me, no.” Williams was just appreciative that the movie had been reshot free of Spacey’s name.

“I said I’d be wherever they needed me, whenever they needed me,” she said. “And they could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted. Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.”

Williams’ dedication seems to be far higher than Wahlberg’s – so how, exactly, did she get such a short end-of-the-salary stick? The answer lies in both Wahlberg’s and Williams’ contracts for the movie. From the beginning, Wahlberg’s contract had stipulated that he wasn’t required to complete reshoots of the movie if needed, while Williams’ was. Therefore, because Wahlberg hadn’t been required to do the reshoots, he’d negotiated his pay when asked to do so.

Wahlberg has already profited from so many projects, so why was he demanding so much money? It’s a question that shines light on an essential human trait, one that seems to reflect much more on men than it does women: the constant need to make more money and the constant need to polish their reputations. Wahlberg had originally taken on the role at a reduction of his original pay so that he could pad his resume, which allowed him some more room to negotiate upon reshoots.

It should be noted that only after Wahlberg was called out for the substantial pay gap that he donated the $1.5 million to the Time’s Up fund in Williams’ name. “I 100 percent support the fight for fair pay,” he said, “and I’m donating the $1.5 million to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund in Michelle Williams’ name.” He’s a little too late – his support of fair pay could’ve started long before the public’s criticism toward him begun, or even before learning he was allowed to negotiate his contract.

Should Wahlberg have been able to negotiate his contract for $1.5M? Should his contract have allowed him to negotiate in the first place? Should actors be given a standardized contract in order to minimize negotiations similar to this in the future? There is only one sure fact about it all: the gender pay gap is a certain and pressing issue that cannot be ignored.

Featured Image by David Torcivia on Flickr

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