Mila Kunis Is ‘Done Compromising’ When It Comes to Hollywood Sexism
Mila Kunis is a longtime star of film and TV with proven box office bankability — but she, like many actresses before her, is all too familiar with Hollywood's enduring sexism problem when it comes to women.
At the beginning of an essay published on husband Ashton Kutcher's A Plus site, Kunis tells the story of a time when a male producer told her she'd "never work in this town again" after she wouldn't pose semi-nude on a men's magazine cover (he felt it would promote their upcoming film).
"I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said 'no,'" the Bad Moms star wrote. "And guess what? The world didn't end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again, and again. What this producer may never realize is that he spoke aloud the exact fear every woman feels when confronted with gender bias in the workplace."
Kunis says too many women stay quiet in sexist work-related situations out of fear of being "kicked out of the sandbox for being a 'b---," and says the problem isn't getting better soon enough to help working women and future generations of girls: "In fact, a recent study by the American Association of University Women shows that the pay gap is closing at such a slow rate that it will be 136 years before women are paid equally to men."
After shedding the notion that trying to play in the "boys club" would help her, she started her own club, forming a production company with three fellow women (Orchard Farm Productions, formed in 2014 with Susan Curtis, Cami Curtis and Lisa Sterbakov). Mila wrote that they were excited to partner with an "influential male producer" to pitch a new TV show that involved themes on gender equality, but his efforts ultimately reflected his own limited view of women's worth.
Kunis said that in an email to TV executives, that producer attempted to rally enthusiasm for her involvement by highlighting her relationship to Kutcher.
"And Mila is a mega star. One of biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be Ashton's wife and baby momma!!!"
This is the entirety of his email. Factual inaccuracies aside, he reduced my value to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children. It ignored my (and my team's) significant creative and logistical contributions.
Kunis writes that "If this is happening to me, it is happening more aggressively to women everywhere," and acknowledges that she has the economic privilege to take a stand and say no to a project, as she did after reading that producer's email, something not every working woman has the financial freedom to do.
"I am fortunate that I have reached a place that I can stop compromising and stand my ground, without fearing how I will put food on my table," said Kunis. "I am also fortunate that I have the platform to talk about this experience in the hope of bringing one more voice to the conversation so that women in the workplace feel a little less alone and more able to push back for themselves."
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