Nia Long is no stranger to Hollywood’s gender pay gap.
“I have watched a lot of men get rich off of the films that I’ve done and I was being paid peanuts,” the actress told The Associated Press at a recent event for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
When Long asked to be paid what she was worth prior to the recent Me Too and Time’s Up movements, many male producers and filmmakers shut her down, she said.
“When I requested or wanted more, I was considered difficult, outspoken, entitled, and all of the things that should not be used to describe a woman who has earned her space, her place and delivers,” the 47-year-old said. “And that just doesn’t apply to me, that’s for everyone.”
Long, who recently starred in “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Roxanne Roxanne,” added that she’s seen somewhat of a cultural shift surrounding gender equality in just the last year.
“I think we are talking about it,” Long said. “Women are more inclined to have those in-the-kitchen conversations with one another where we can just talk freely about all the things that we’ve been shamed [for].”
The actress has never held her tongue on issues of sexism and racism. During a 2016 interview with Larry King, Long reflected on the trials and tribulations of being a Black woman over 40 in Hollywood.
“I think it’s an old conversation. I think it’s a topic that hasn’t changed,” Long told King when he asked for her thoughts on sexism and racism in the entertainment industry. “I think it saddens me that we aren’t in a place where we can just make good art, and we aren’t in a place where I can be cast as the leading woman and my description does not have to say African-American or Black.”
She continued: “I’m 45. I’m Black. And I’m a woman. So those are three really hard things to deal with … I work really hard to get sometimes crumbs. I feel blessed and lucky to have the career that I have. But there are times that I’ve been beat up in this business. It hasn’t just been roses and fairytales. It’s been a tough road.”