Friday 19 April 2019

'I was always paid less than male stars, but now I feel more powerful' - Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson on pay gap: Women have been treated as second- class citizens (Ian West/PA)
Dame Emma Thompson (Nick Haddow/Good Housekeeping)
Emma Thompson in Sense And Sensibility (Sony)
Emma Thompson has enjoyed success at the box office and with critics (Ian West/PA)
Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks at the gala screening of Saving Mr Banks, the closing film of the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square, London
Florence Pugh (left) and Emma Thompson attending the BBC screening of King Lear held at The Soho Hotel, London. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire
Florence Pugh (left), Andrew Scott and Emma Thompson attending the BBC screening of King Lear held at The Soho Hotel, London. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire
Actress Emma Thompson (Jane Barlow/PA)

Lucy Mapstone

Emma Thompson has praised the move to publish salaries to highlight gender pay inequalities as it reveals how women have been treated as "second-class citizens".

The 59-year-old also said she feels more "powerful" now than she did in her younger years, because she has stopped caring about what others think of her.

The actress said she was "always paid less" than her male counterparts in the past.

On the issue being openly discussed this year, which saw businesses in the UK with more than 250 employees required to report data on their mean and median gender pay gaps, she said: "Publishing figures is the first step. It's a forensic way of looking at how women are second-class citizens and I really appreciate that because it's not emotional.

"This is the fact - this person does the same work for less money, and that's just wrong."

She advised women to make money in order to remain independent in their lives.

"Earn your own living and keep your own money," the two-times Oscar-winner said.

"It's your cash and you should always decide what to do with it."

The acclaimed actress, who has starred in films including Howard's End, Sense And Sensibility, The Remains Of The Day, Love Actually and Saving Mr Banks, was made a dame in Queen Elizabeth's birthday honours last month.

"It's a huge honour. I've always wanted to refer to myself as a dame," she said.

"Dame with a capital is even more thrilling.

"I was, however, disappointed it didn't come with a castle.

"I plan to go on being very difficult just in case anyone was wondering if it might shut me up."

On getting older and approaching 60, she said: "I've never felt so powerful and so calm.

"I just don't care, because I'm too old. It's such a great feeling.

"You don't get to judge me. I'm my own person, I don't care what you think.

"I put as much thought as I'm sure you do into decisions in life. I try to balance stuff out, I don't get too wound up or bruised about the mistakes that I make, I'm not a perfectionist and I'm never too hard on myself.

"It's all very well saying, 'I don't care what anybody thinks', but the most important thing is not to care about the little voice in your head.

"That's the voice you need to be able to ignore, and that's the voice I've learned to ignore over the last 20 years."

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