If you’ve been on the right corners of the internet over the past few days, chances are you’re familiar with Ellen Pompeo‘s viral plea for diversity behind the scenes in Hollywood and Gabrielle Union‘s big mood look of approval. This clip was but a snippet of Porter’s insightful “The Big Television Debate,” which brought together Pompeo, Union, Gina Rodriguez, and Emma Roberts to discuss the issues facing women in Hollywood today.
The conversation that transpired can practically be turned into a bible for the entire Time’s Up movement, touching upon issues including the need for equal pay, diversity on stage and off, the value of having each other’s backs, and how to be an ally to your peers.
Pompeo — who, after recognizing her contribution to Grey’s Anatomy‘s wild success, renegotiated her contract to become the highest-paid actress in a TV drama — opened the video with a moment of self-awareness, by acknowledging that even though she had to put up a fight for her worth, her struggle is less than that of people “working normal jobs.” Ultimately, noticing her privilege is what leads her to feel empowered to speak up for those with less than she has.
Piggybacking off that idea, Rodriguez added that the self-awareness is part of the problem for her. Culturally, she was raised to be grateful for getting this far, and it’s tough to reconcile her appreciation with her desire to ask for more, particularly when “white women get paid more than black women, black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women.” This prompted a passionate look at who sets these values and who makes the money they’re not getting. Spoiler: It’s largely the white men at the top of the Hollywood food chain.
Roberts, who is largely taking this opportunity to listen and learn (a silent contribution we can all learn from, if we’re being completely honest), jumps in with an issue she’s encountered as a young actress time and time again: attempting to negotiate an offer, only to be warned that there’s another girl just like her willing to do the same role for less, and she can be replaced in a heartbeat.
But it was Union’s breakdown of the mechanisms of sisterhood that was truly inspiring. Recalling a job that had been turned down by a friend over inadequate compensation then later offered to Union herself, the actress described how she and every other woman later offered the job (all of whom happened to run in the same social circle) banned together to demand the same payout were they to accept the role. This act of divine sisterhood resulted in the original actress getting the role with a much higher payout than she’d asked for in the first place. “I lose nothing, it was never my job to begin with, but I’m gonna make sure she gets paid,” Union explained before concluding, “I don’t want a job that I’m only getting because they screwed over the next woman.”
For all of that and so much more, watch the full conversation in the video above.