Justice for Adele Lim! It’s evident that Hollywood is still sexist when it comes to women – especially if she’s a woman of colour.
The Hollywood Reporter announced that the Malaysian-born writer has opted out of the “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel due a pay disparity. It is understood that she was offered 8-10 times lesser than her fellow co-writer, Peter Chiarelli, a white man.
The publication reported that Warner Bros. is only offering to pay Lim US$110,000-plus while Chiarelli was offered between US$800,000 to US$1 million. Warners apparently defended their unfair decision citing “the quotes are industry-standard established ranges based on experience and that making an exception would set a troubling precedent in the business”. That’s because Chiarelli had previous movie experiences while Lim came from the world of TV.
The Malaysian Chinese descent, who was the first movie’s only Asian writer, said, “Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions“. She believes that the industry often regard women as well as people of colour as soy sauce – “hired to sprinkle culturally specific details on a screenplay, rather than credited with the substantive work of crafting the story“.
Here’s the interesting part, the dispute actually took place last autumn. After spending 5 months searching for another Asian writer to replace Lim, Warner Bros returned to her in February 2019 with a better offer – a salary closer to Chiarelli. Lim wasn’t having any of it.
Chiarelli had offered to split his pay cheque with Lim, but there is a bigger issue that needed to come under the spotlight. “Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer. If I couldn’t get pay equity after ‘CRA’, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of colour would never have been (hired for). There’s no realistic way to achieve true equity that way,” Lim responded.
To echo commentator Ben Pearson, taking the higher offer would probably had been the easier choice but Lim was willing to forgo it in hopes of equalling the playing field for minorities in Hollywood. Shame on you, Warner Bros.
Filming for the back-to-back sequels is expected to begin towards the end of 2020.