In the wake of Adele Lim’s recent decision to walk away from writing on the “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel in protest of being paid less than her male co-writer, dozens of professional female writers across film and television are sharing their own pay-inequity stories.
Variety spoke with two such writers. Ashley Gable served as a co-executive producer and then executive producer on CBS’ “The Mentalist”. For that she was earning $25,000 per episode, but discovered towards the end of the contract that she was being paid two-thirds of the $40,000 per episode that her male counterparts were making – each of whom had joined the show after her.
She negotiated up to $30,000 per episode and was told by Warners to take “thirty and be grateful”. She did take it and stayed on for another year and then left. Gable doesn’t blame the other writers, she blames the studio:
“They [the writers] are great. They deserve every penny they were paid, but I, too, was great and deserve to be paid the same. This is our employers doing this. This is not writers s—ting on other writers. It’s the studio’s responsibility to pay people fairly and to pay women the same as men.”
Patricia Carr, who had worked on numerous series for the network all the way up to being a showrunner for them in the past, met with CBS Studios to discuss a position at “NCIS: New Orleans” in 2018. After some negotiating she asked for what she got paid for her previous work on a number of CBS Television Studios shows plus a 3% a year increase. Their final offer from them was 25% below that.
She turned it down and CBS then hired a male writer with fewer credits, nearly a decade less experience, made him an executive producer and paid him a bunch more than she had asked for. Said man was also fired within a year after HR complaints.
On top of that, The Playlist reports that filmmaker Minhal Baig (“Hala”) posted a cryptic tweet on her social media explaining that she wouldn’t be returning to a series that she previously wrote for on its critically acclaimed first season. In fact not only was she not asked to return, but none of the other women on staff were asked back either – only a male office PA and a male executive producer with no previous writing experience.
People quickly deduced she was talking about “Ramy,” the Hulu series about a man balancing living his life as a Muslim, while also trying to adapt to the more American customs that he’s embraced. The women on staff were featured in press ahead of the release of the show, but all were dismissed as they were told “We need different voices.”
In addition, she revealed that the show’s creator asked for co-writing credit on every episode. He relented in giving sole writing credit to the staff writers, but she says “the sense of entitlement behind the ask was stunning.” Baig is now working on “Dune: The Sisterhood” for Apple TV+.
For more stories like this, check out the hashtag #NotWorthLess on Twitter.