Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, and Other Comedic Actresses Talk Sexism, Salary, and More
By Caitlin Moscatello
It happened. Comedic actresses Lena Dunham, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ellie Kemper, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, and Amy Schumer all sat down with The Hollywood Reporter for the roundtable of our dreams and, as you might expect from this crew, they held nothing back. While the whole interview is worth reading — seriously, grab a coffee this afternoon and dive in — there are a few spots of note that touch on some not-so-funny issues such as sexism and being paid less than men. Check it out.
Dunham: I heard a guy on my show say into his microphone: "I hate this job. I can't wait to be back on a show where there's a man at the helm."
Schumer: I hope you sent [Girls actor-comedian] Colin Quinn home for that. (Laughs.)
Dunham: Colin is actually the world's biggest feminist! Later, that same guy came up to me at lunch and said, "You're really enjoying that buffet, aren't you?"
Schumer: Who the f— is this?
Dunham: He's the worst person alive. I hope he reads this, which he won't because he's drunk.
On racial stereotyping and a lack of diversity in Hollywood
Rodriguez: I remove myself instantly if something's perpetuating a stereotype. But the only way to stop stereotypes is to say, "I'm going to wait for a journey that suits me."
Dunham: I got into Jane the Virgin after reading your early interviews. You were obviously grateful, but rather than going, "I'm so lucky to have this part!" you took back the power and said, "I waited for something that spoke to me as a Latina and didn't feel like I was compromising."
Rodriguez: When you compromise, you don't do your best work.
Ross: I can't sleep at night.
Rodriguez: You're only left with your integrity. You can't take those Jimmy Choos with you!
Schumer: [To Ross and Rodriguez] I never thought how bad it could be for you guys until I had a TV show and we had to do auditions. Many black women who auditioned thought that we wanted them to be "sassy."
Rodriguez: "Get me someone more urban!"
Schumer: We're like, "No, just be yourself." I thought: That sucks. It meant they'd been in a lot of rooms where they were like, "Uh, can you be more like (snaps her finger)."
On the absence of women in late-night television
Dunham: The idea of risk-taking is terrifying. I love Stephen Colbert, he's a genius, but CBS [couldn't] take the David Letterman slot and hire somebody who represented even an ounce of diversity? Also, when they got James Corden — another guy I love — there was this joke, "We've run out of white men here, we have to import them from England." There is no shortage of established women who've been on the comedy circuit for years. It bums me out that someone like Kathy Griffin was relegated to Fashion Police.
Ross: There's a plethora of female talent, and it's not just about moving someone into a late-night slot.
Kemper: But it's back to that thing — until you show a new formula can work, people are too scared to take a chance.
On men being paid more and fighting for equal wages
Kemper: I'm not powerful enough to have that fight.
McKinnon: I'll work for a hamburger...I just want to be onstage. And I want a hamburger.
Dunham: ["Lean In" author] Sheryl Sandberg once asked me, "Do you know what you make compared to men who run an HBO show?" and I was like, "Why would I ever ask about that? I can pay for dog food, and I have an apartment." I hear my boyfriend [musician Jack Antonoff] on the phone all the time saying, "I'm worth more than that." I do not have that skill.
Schumer: I do. A couple years ago, I heard how much Floyd Mayweather charged for fights. (Laughs.) He's not my role model. I just, like, want to date him... [On fighting for better pay in stand-up:] Yeah, I'm like, "These people are only going to be there because of me, so I'm not crazy."
Kemper: I once heard an exec say, "If you don't ask for it, we can't give it to you." We can't go through our lives just being grateful for everything.
On double standards
Ross: I was raised by a woman [singer Diana Ross] who has high standards for what she's worth, which has been called "diva behavior." I have witnessed flagrant, disgusting behavior, and that is not my mother. There is a way to be a woman, ask for what we deserve, and be able to negotiate.
Dunham: When it was leaked how much I was getting for my book [a reported $3.7 million for "Not That Kind of Girl"], there were 39,000 articles asking, "Is she worth it?" Then it came out what [comedian] Aziz Ansari was making on his book [a reported $3.5 million]. No one says a goddamn word
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