Michelle Williams took a moment out from accepting the award for best lead actress in a limited series for "Fosse/Verdon" to talk about equal pay at the 2019 Emmy Awards on Sunday night.
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During her acceptance speech for her first Emmy, the actress spoke about the greater meaning behind her award.
"I see this as an acknowledgement of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them and respected enough to that they'll be heard," she told the crowd.
She explained that during the production for the series, she asked for more dance classes and voice lessons, along with extra adjustments to help her get more into character -- and was met with a "yes" from the studio.
"All of these things -- they require effort and they cost more money, but my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon," she added.
Williams, who has been a vocal leader in the fight for equal pay in Hollywood, also said how thankful she was to be paid equally for the series.
"They understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value -- and then where do they put that value, they put it into their work," she stated.
"The next time a woman -- and especially a woman of color -- because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her. Believe her," she continued.
"One day, she might stand in front of you and say 'thank you' for allowing her to succeed because of her work place environment and not in spite of it."
Williams was famously paid less than $1,000 for re-shoots for the movie "All the Money in the World," while her co-star, Mark Wahlberg, made $1.5 million, which made her earnings less than 1% of his.
"The discrepancy in 'All the Money in the World' was so huge that it really illustrated a larger point, not just for myself," she said backstage. "If it was this difficult for me -- a white woman in a privileged industry -- how difficult is it for women of color across all industries?"
"While tonight is a kind of fairy tale ending for me -- my own personal story -- there really won't be any satisfaction for me until the larger message is heard," she added.
The actress spoke to lawmakers on Capitol Hill in April 2019 about her fight for equality and support for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The bill was passed in the House in March, but has yet to pass the Senate.