Tiffany Haddish’s brand of comedy has grown since her star started to rise but so has her voice around activism. While the actress and comedian keep her causes of choice, she finds herself now speaking out against yet another industry that doesn’t want to give Black women performers what they’re worth – The Recording Academy, who sponsors the Grammys.
Hollywood and the entertainment business are littered with women who have sought to speak out on equality. Black women, however, are treated even less equally than some other women in the business. There are some women who have climbed the highest of heights in the business and still have to demand a fair rate.
Back in 2018, Viola Davis made an appearance at a “Women in the World” event in which she gave a fiery testimonial about perceived inequalities in Hollywood – that extend just beyond a “pay gap” between Black women and White women.
“What they’re getting paid, which is half of what a man is getting paid … well, we get probably a tenth of what a Caucasian woman gets, and I’m No. 1 on the call sheet,” Viola says in the clip that has gone viral numerous times due to its relevancy.
She further broke it down, sharing that she’s even had to share these lessons with other actors. “I had a friend who said, ‘Yeah, but Viola, your career is better than my career.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but you can’t compare me to you, because, once again, I got the Oscar, I got the Emmy, I got the two Tonys, I’ve done Broadway, I’ve done off-Broadway, I’ve done TV and I’ve done film. I’ve done all of it.”
Viola powerfully closes, sharing how people compare her to Meryl Streep, without actually giving her the roles, money and opportunities that Streep gets.
“People say, ‘You’re a Black Meryl Streep. You are, and we love you! We love you. There is no one like you,’” she recalled hearing from executives. “OK, then if there is no one like me, if you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth. You give me what I’m worth!”
Tiffany Haddish is calling out the Recording Academy for continuing this harmful practice of lowballing Black talent. Haddish is nominated for her second Grammy this year for Best Comedy Album for Netflix’s Black Mitzvah, and was also asked to host the Pre-Telecast Premiere Ceremony – for free.
“This is something that needs to be addressed. How many other people have they done that to? It’s like a guy asking you on a date but telling you that you have to pay for it,” she told Variety in a sit-down recently.
In addition to no compensation for the 3-hour event, Haddish was also told they wouldn’t cover hair, makeup, wardrobe or travel for the evening.
“All of that would have to come out of my pocket,” she said, adding, “I don’t know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again, but I think it’s disrespectful.”
In the end, the Recording Academy apologized and spoke to Haddish directly, but it was still another stark reminder of how hard it still is for Black talent to find the respect they’ve earned in this business.