Tracey Ullman, Sarah Paulson, and Elizabeth Banks of “Mrs. America” talk about the new FX on Hulu show at the Television Critics Association on Jan. 9, 2020. (Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
PASADENA, Calif. – In the fight for equal pay in Hollywood, the first step to making progress is just talking about the issue.
That’s what Elizabeth Banks said Thursday at the Television Critics Association, while promoting FX on Hulu’s nine-episode miniseries “Mrs. America” (due April 15) about the 1970s fight for (and against) the Equal Rights Amendment, Banks brought up issues women are still fighting for, including equal pay.
“It’s all about leverage,” she said. “For anybody, when it comes to (equal pay). But I also think it’s about educating.”
She pointed out that knowing what other women and men are making in Hollywood is essential to making pay equitable across gender lines.
“Some of the best advice I got from women in this business was from women who were open about money,” she said. “And it was such a taboo subject to even talk about money amongst anybody; men, too. And I think nowadays there’s a transparency that exists that is helping everybody (to) sort of be paid what they’re worth.”
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In “Mrs. America,” Banks plays Jill Ruckelshaus, a conservative Republican who helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus. The miniseries shows both the women’s liberation movement that fought hard to get the ERA ratified (a fight still going on today) and those, under prominent conservative Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) who opposed it. Banks believes the issues are still relevant in 2020.
“More and more women since 1972 when this show (is set) are in the workforce,” she said. “And that’s really what it comes down to. We want equality of opportunity when it comes to our economic status and our bodily autonomy. Very basic things. We just want the constitution to mean the same to us that it means to men. To everybody else.
“I never bought into (“feminist” being a bad word) because I could tell it was a tactic,” she continued. “And honestly, when you look up that word in the dictionary it’s pretty simple. I just believe men and women should have equality of opportunity. Yeah! That’s a feminist. Everything else that has gone into the demonization of that word are special interests who don’t want women to succeed.”
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