Jane Fonda on pay equity: It was an issue when 9 to 5 came out, it’s still an issue

Jane Fonda at YOUTH Premiere in LA
In an interview with Vulture.com to promote her new movie Youth, Jane Fonda is asked about her famous dance parties, which include Catherine Keener, Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Page, Jake Shears and soon, James Corden. Let’s sit with that a minute and imagine what that scene must be like. I am a spontaneous dancer, more than one dinner has been burned because The Mister slaps on some serious R&B (or 80s pop – it’s a confusing household). I am just putting it out there, Jane, in case you need someone to round out your Virginia Wheel.

In addition to epic dance parties, Jane discusses the movie and what was it like to work with Paolo Sorrentino vs. other directors. Those quotes are fun and you can read them all on Vulture. The later part of the interview deals with her thoughts on Jennifer Lawrence’s pay gap essay and inequality in general:

On being paid equally with male actors:
This is gonna sound really weird, but I never paid attention.

On Jennifer’s point that women don’t pay attention but men do:
You know what? I have no idea what I was paid to do Youth. No idea. I’m gonna do a movie with Robert Redford again, and I’m gonna pay more attention now, because of the conversation.

On her joke about the ex-husbands on Frankie and Grace making the same amount as Jane and Lily Tomlin:
I know! Because this is a real issue. Meryl Streep has talked about it a lot, too. The thing is, it’s not just true of movies — it’s true across the board… You know, I made 9 to 5, I produced that movie, and pay equity was an issue that was raised then. A lot of the other issues that have been raised for workers have been dealt with since, but not pay equity. No, no, no. We’re still out there.

On the lack of women-helmed movies:
… it’s a business, bottom line, and it’s an expensive business. When your job is on the line and you’re earning millions of dollars as a studio executive, you tend to be conservative and go in the direction of what’s familiar and comfortable. What’s familiar is someone that looks like you — a white male, probably. The good news is that you can’t solve a problem until you name it, and now it’s being named. We have to shame studios into changing it…

[From Vulture.com]

I am trying really hard to stay on task and not launch into a fawning soliloquy on how much I love 9 to 5. Or that ohmigod – Paul and Corie together again! #BarefootInTheParkHEARTEYES!

But I digress…

I expect children of Hollywood dynasties (Jane’s father was Henry Fonda, her brother is Peter Fonda) likely don’t pay as much attention to the business side because they probably use the same business people as their relations. That is why what Jane says here is so great; she is not parsing out a few pat phrases or worse, implying it’s not an issue. She is not taking a hall pass on this; she realizes people in her position play into the problem by letting others have the control. She doesn’t need the money but that isn’t the point; by acting as a result of the current conversation, she furthers the discussion.

I like the example she is setting here, I really do – and I think I should discuss it further with Jane… at her place, maybe with a few friends over, possibly moving rhythmically to one of Catherine Keener’s great playlists.

Check out the cast of Youth – it has Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, and Rachel Weisz and it looks intriguing. Jane comes in at about 2:00:

19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards

19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards

Jane Fonda at YOUTH Premiere in LA

Jane Fonda is shown at the premiere of Youth on 11-17-15 and at the Hollywood Film Awards on 11-10-15. Credit: FameFlynet and WENN

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11 Responses to “Jane Fonda on pay equity: It was an issue when 9 to 5 came out, it’s still an issue”

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  1. Joaneu says:

    I agree that Jane does not seem very business-oriented but I think it’s a question of personality rather than a question of privilege. She and her father were quite distant emotionally and he was not very indulging to either one of his children, nor to his first wife. Jane, and mostly Peter, did not have it like usual celebrity brats you see today. Jane’s ex-Ted Turner is also a notorious penny-pincher and I think this lifestyle eventually started to weigh on her, too.

    I love 9-to-5 also!
    “I’ll turn you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!”

  2. Danielle says:

    I love 9 to 5! Also, you have to name something to change it. Great statement. I think that’s what pissed me off so much about Kate winlsets “its vulgar to talk about” bs. It’s hiding problems.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Just wanted to say that burning dinners because you’re dancing with your husband sounds like a nice way to go through life.

  4. Jess says:

    Very good point about the pay equity and the need to identify the issue out loud as a first step. And I love 9 to 5. But it’s not just the pay equity that’s still an issue – a lot of the sexism and the challenges in that movie still exist today. I was just telling someone a couple of days ago that lately I feel like Lily Tomlin to my Dabney Coleman-like boss (they, unfortunately, were too young to get that reference, which is a shame).

    By the way, also love Grace and Frankie!

  5. Bettyrose says:

    Mygawd she looks great! I clicked because 9 to 5 barely has any men in it if I remember correctly, but I see that she’s also talking about pay equity as a producer. I get her point about never thinking about it at the time. She was already rich – but also pre internet the world was less transparent. How would you even know what anyone else earned? Men probably flashed their cash more so it was obvious, but you wouldn’t know the exact numbers.

  6. Lemony Snicket says:

    Yeah, I kinda speed read through the rest after she said she’s going to do another picture with Redford… that’s what’s jump-started my squealing! Talk more about that!

  7. Abbess Tansy says:

    Oh how I love that movie. It was one of my mother’s favorites. We watched it before she died last year.

    It seems strange to me that Fonda wouldn’t know what she makes on her films. I would be all over that contract.

  8. MildredFierce says:

    The HWReporter round table – Jane changed the topic away from the equal pay conversation! Jane is not interested in the conversation. Jane whole protest movement phase was attempt to get her conservative father’s attention. I know the director of On Golden Pound. All Jane ever wanted was her father’s attention. Bad or good attention. Attention is attention to some. I have never bought was Jane was selling.

    Most these actresses care for only for themselves. Period. Kate Winslet. Marion Catilloard. Have both on record discounting or rather refusing to talk about equal pay or female directors. They don’t want to stick their necks out. Their careers are fine, so why volunteer to have your ‘activisim’ backfire especially as you age.

  9. kelly says:

    I wonder why she didn’t speak up during the THR roundtable when Jennifer and some of the other younger actresses were discussing her essay and the pay gap in general. She was strangely quiet…