10 Women in Hollywood Share Horror Stories of Sexism in the Workplace

Emma Stone, Elisabeth Moss and Mila Kunis are speaking out for change.

MOST POPULAR

Sexism in Hollywood seems to be a casual, everyday occurrence, and for years, women have had to suffer it in silence.

But as more and more mistreated stars go public with their own personal experiences of gender discrimination, out-dated and unacceptable attitudes will hopefully change, and progress towards gender equality will be made.

Here 10 actresses who have shared their experiences of sexism in the industry below:

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

1) Lena Heady: "'The men take these tapes home and say, 'Who would you f***?'"

Game of Thrones star Lena Headey recently admitted that she has to constantly repeat herself on sets crowded with men in order to be heard. Her male counterparts, however, only have to say something once and everyone listens.

She also recalled a horrifying audition during which a casting director told her (via The Edit): "'The men take these tapes home and watch them and say, 'Who would you f***?'"

MOST POPULAR

2) Thandie Newton: "A director had a camera shooting up my skirt"

Westworld star Thandie Newton shared her distressing experience of sexual exploitation by an unnamed director during an audition when she was a younger.

"A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my tits and think about the guy making love to me in the scene," the actress recalled to W magazine.

"I thought, 'OK, this is a little weird,' but there was a female casting director in the room and I'd done weird stuff before so I did it."

Years later, she was approached by a drunk producer at Cannes Film Festival who informed her that the director had been sharing the video with friends.

"'Oh, Thandie, I've seen you recently!' And he lurched away looking really shocked that he'd said that," she continued. "It turns out that the director was showing that audition tape to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it."

Newton said that people are afraid to speak out about it for fear of forfeiting acting jobs, but she added: "If one person will read this and it will stop them getting sexually abused by a director, that's the person I'm interested in."

3) Alison Brie: "I had to audition for three lines in a bikini!"

Mad Men star Alison Brie was promoting Netflix '80s wrestling comedy Glow when she lamented the lack of progress for women in Hollywood since that era.

Recalling an alarming audition for former HBO series Entourage, she told EW: "Early in my career, I auditioned for three lines on an episode of Entourage that I had to go on in a bikini!

"Or, like, shorts and the tiniest shorts. And they were like, 'OK, can you take your top off now?'"

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

The actress later clarified on Twitter that she hadn't been asked to go topless because she had been a bikini top on underneath, but it still sounds demeaning enough to us.

4) Elisabeth Moss: "I've had a TV pitch turned down for being too female"

Elisabeth Moss claims that a female-led series she pitched was rejected by male producers because it didn't have enough men in it.

"I have experienced [sexism in the workplace] in pitching something that is female-led," the Top of the Lake star told Digital Spy. "I have been told that it was too female. By [male] executives.

"Everything was too female. It was a female lead, a female protagonist, it was led by a woman. It was too female. I was shocked by it. I won't say specifically [what it was]. It was recently.

"It was in the last couple of years. It's shocking. It's almost illegal."

5) Mila Kunis: "'You'll never work in this town again'"

Mila Kunis shared her own experience about standing up to a producer because she didn't want to pose semi-nude in a shoot to promote their film.

When she was told her career would end if she didn't do what he wanted, it prompted her to write an impassioned essay against gender bias for A Plus, while encouraging others to use their privileged platforms to stand up against it.

"'You'll never work in this town again.' A cliché to be sure, but also what a producer threatened when I refused to pose semi-naked on the cover of a men's magazine to promote our film. I was no longer willing to subject myself to a naïve compromise that I had previously been willing to. 'I will never work in this town again?'

"I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said 'no.' 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.

"Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender. And always, I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they knew more, maybe they had more experience, maybe there was something I was missing. I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boy's club. But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realized that it's bullshit! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"If this is happening to me, it is happening more aggressively to women everywhere. 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.

"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."

6) Zoe Kazan: "There's so much sexual harassment on set"

Ruby Sparks star Zoe Kazan recently admitted that sexual harassment on sets is rife.

MOST POPULAR

"There's so much sexual harassment on set," she told The Guardian. "And there's no HR department, right? We don't have a redress. We have our union, but no one ever resorts to that, because you don't want to get a reputation for being difficult. I've told Paul [Dano] about stuff that has happened on set and it's almost as if he can't take it in. It's too upsetting. And he's never had to deal with that once."

Kazan also went on to say that she's been advised in the past to give 'blowjob eyes' during auditions and to be flirty with a director or producer.

"Like, I had a producer ask me on set once if I spat or swallowed. At work. He'd say, 'Oh, it's a joke, ha ha.' But he was also paying my cheque and then watching me from the monitor as I made out with another actor – so when he tells me I look good, it feels different.

"That has got better as I've got older, partially, I think, because I'm better at knowing how to shut that down. But it makes you feel guilty, and bad, as if it's somehow your fault – that you're somehow giving that person the signal that it's OK to treat you that way."

7) Jessica Chastain: "'Did you just spank me?'"

Experience and success in Hollywood means Jessica Chastain won't tolerate sexism from co-workers anymore, but she still shared her story of being victim to it.

"I won't say who, but I've been on a movie where someone very important… I had been walking down the hall and they kind of spanked me on the butt," the star told The Telegraph.

"And I did turn around and say, 'Did you just spank me?' I was really upset about it. But in their mind it was completely normal. It was fine behavior."

8) Emmy Rossum: "The director wants you to come into his office in a bikini"

Shameless star Emmy Rossum said a director once offered her a part in a film, on the condition that she would go to his office in just a bikini.

"My agent called me and was like, 'I'm so embarrassed to make this call, but there's a big movie and they're going to offer it to you'", Rossum told The Hollywood Reporter. "They really love your work on the show.

"But the director wants you to come into his office in a bikini. There's no audition. That's all you have to do.'"

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

She believes that the director had wanted to see her in a bikini because "he wanted to know if I was fat now.

"And I actually had this moment like, 'Well, how good is the part?' For a second, I was like, 'Would I do it? Send me the script. Maybe the character is in a bikini in the movie.' "

It turns out there were no bikini scenes or any nudity at all, and impersonating the unnamed director's voice, Rossum added: "'We really love your work, but we just want to see how tight your ass is.'

"Are you fucking kidding me? Last time I checked, I'm not a fucking model."

9) Zoe Saldana: "I hired you to look good in your underwear holding a gun"

Avatar actress Zoe Saldana recalled a producer trying to silence her by saying she was only employed to look "good in her underwear holding a gun" [via href='http://www.allure.com/story/zoe-saldana-interview' target='_blank">Allure magazine'].

When the cast were encouraged to share their ideas about the movie and Saldana offered her opinions, she was told by the producer to "stop being a difficult bitch'."

"I thought, 'Wow, it's real. It really happens.'"

10) Emma Stone: "I've needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut, so I may have parity"

Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone has support from her male co-stars when it comes to being paid fairly. Because despite one of the most sought after stars in Hollywood, she's not immune to wage inequality.

"In my career so far, I've needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them," the star told Out magazine. "And that's something they do for me because they feel it's what's right and fair.

"That's something that's also not discussed, necessarily - that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, 'That's what's fair.' If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life."

More from ELLE UK: