Kathy Griffin: "I've Never Been Paid What the Guys Get"
Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin has earned two Emmys — but until she hit 36, she wasn't earning more than $20,000 a year. "I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t in a situation where my male counterparts didn’t make more money than I did," the now 55-year-old revealed yesterday to Variety.
It's not for lack of effort. Griffin says she's fought for equal pay and raises with those two Emmys in hand to no avail. In fact, when she starred in My Life on the D List — a reality show that followed the star as she attempted to climb the Hollywood ladder, years after the super-popular Suddenly Susan ended — she marched into a meeting with NBC’s co-chairman Ben Silverman holding those golden trophies. "I said, 'I have these. Can I have a raise now?'" she recalls. "I think the answer was either a very tiny one or no."
Griffin says while things may change for Jennifer Lawrence and other young movie stars, "it's not getting better for me." On Suddenly Susan, Griffin says she received the second-lowest salary of the entire cast. "Judd Nelson, who I liked, made four times what I made, and he ended up getting fired," she says. "And I went on to get two Emmys, a Grammy, three television shows with my name in the title, and a New York Times best-seller."
Griffin describes being a woman in Hollywood as if it's weren't a business but a movie set itself — one in which she must constantly act like an always pleasant, unthreatening woman or she'll be portrayed as a bitch. "When you’re me, this isn’t a comedy situation," she says. "But I still have to do it with a wink and my tongue in my cheek. If I go there as a ballsy chick, it turns guys off."
Why? She says, "because they are not used to a self-starting woman like myself who truly came from working as a temp in Forest Park, Ill. I try to do things that they really can’t argue with. If I’m trying to get equal pay, I take my f-king awards and accomplishments, and I bring them to the table."
Since she departed My Life on the D-List, Griffin has gone on to co-host CNN’s New Years Eve with Anderson and Kathy. What started as a guest spot on the show morphed into a recurring role for Griffin, who has been asked back each year by Anderson Cooper himself. "Do you think I make what Anderson makes?" she asks. "I mean, give me a break — of course not. I’ll try to get a little more money this year. I might. But I might not."
Watch Kathy Griffin's exclusive MAKERS story above.
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