The concept of equal pay was an unexpected winner at the 2019 Emmy Awards.
Last night, television’s biggest stars were honored for their hard work. Among them was actress Michelle Williams, who received an Emmy for her turn as legendary Broadway dancer Gwen Verdon on the hit FX show “Fosse/Verdon.”
When she received her award, she used the moment as an opportunity to spotlight the ways in which she was supported by her (male) supervisors. “I see this [award] 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 told the audience, citing her well-met requests for everything from more dance classes to costume adjustments.
She added, “[A]ll of these things, they require effort, and they cost more money, 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.”
Williams then addressed the idea of equal pay head on, thanking higher-ups at Fox for “paying me equally” and noting how “they understood that, when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value.”
It’s unfortunately rare for women to feel this way. As of this year, women overall are still making $0.79 for every $1 a man makes. But Williams also made sure to point out that equal pay is even further away for women of color than it is for white women. On average, black women are paid $0.62 and Latinas receive just $0.54 for ever $1 a white man makes.
[Related: The Pay Gap Itself is Unequal]
While the problem persists, Williams offered sage advice to supervisors of women workers: “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.”