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Jessica Chastain on Continuing to ‘Balance the Scales’ for Gender Parity in Hollywood

Jessica Chastain‘s work for gender parity in Hollywood isn’t slowing down soon.

“I have noticed, of course, now that it’s in fashion there are other people that are jumping on board, and honestly, I don’t care what their motives are,” Chastain tells Variety. “Because at the end of the day, the more we focus on creating opportunities for everyone — I don’t care if some people are doing it because it’s the fashionable thing to do. It’s also the right thing to do.”

Chastain was honored as one of Marie Claire’s Change Makers for its April edition, along with “Selma” director Ava DuVernay and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Constance Wu. The event to celebrate women in the entertainment industry, in partnership with Modern Creation München, took place in West Hollywood Tuesday night.

Chastain, the star of “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Help,” has been vocal about equity for women in the industry since the beginning of her career. Last year, Octavia Spencer revealed that Chastain helped her receive equal pay for an upcoming film they are working on together. Chastain talked about her goals for representation in 2019, which involved fighting for equal pay for another forthcoming film, the spy thriller “355,” which stars Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and Penélope Cruz.

“Everything I’m producing, the movie I’m doing with Octavia, ‘355,’ — which actually the cast is more diverse than not when you think of the five women — we all have equal pay,” Chastain said. “Just doing things where you balance the scales makes a huge difference, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Additionally, Chastain said she hopes that actors of color will receive more opportunities to play a bigger range of characters.

“I’m also going to continue to tell stories where race isn’t necessarily a factor,” Chastain said. “The more we have these conversations, the more that we’re going to accurately be able to portray all the people of our world. We’re not just one demographic living this world. We need to be inclusive of everyone.”

Jessica Chastain, Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider, and Nithya RamanMarie Claire Change Makers Celebration, Arrivals, Hills Penthouse, Los Angeles, USA - 12 Mar 2019
CREDIT: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock

Nithya Raman, the executive director of Time’s Up Entertainment, told Variety that one of the organization’s most exciting accomplishments is the 4% challenge. She said within just a few days of its launch in January, the initiative saw more than 100 entertainment figures, and seven studios signing up to work with female directors.

“We just had a meeting with the disability cohort. We had about 20 disabled artists, actresses, amazing women just talking about what they want,” Jill Holloway, creator of “Transparent,” saud of her work with Time’s Up. “We’re organizing trans men, we’re organizing sex workers, so we’re creating cohorts of all different kinds of people so that we can use this access to Time’s Up to make sure that all different kinds of people get lifted up.”

Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider discussed the impact of the Change Makers issue.

“I really think it’s important for all young women from every background to see themselves represented in the pages of the magazine,” she said. “To see themselves in powerful roles and to know that not only could they be a movie star one day, but they could be a director, they could be a producer, they could be a writer, and it was Gloria Steinem who said, ‘You can’t be it, if you can’t see it.’”

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