Tessa Thompson Talks 'Sexist and Racist' Industry — How She Negotiated 'MIB' Contract

“When we talk about issues of pay equity, that means something different to Natalie Portman than it does to me,” she says.

Tessa Thompson says the movie industry is inherently "sexist and racist".

In a wide-ranging interview with Marie Claire for their July cover story, the actress discussed how she negotiated her contract for the upcoming film "Men in Black: International," which reunites her with Chris Hemsworth for the third time.

"The truth is, the system where you assess international value is inherently sexist and racist because we haven’t had those opportunities," Thompson said. "The only way to disrupt that is to create new models."

"When we were having the conversation around how we structure our deals, I said, ‘I understand who Chris Hemsworth is and who I am not relative to him, globally and otherwise. But in the success of the film, that changes. In success, I want equity. Because then you can’t make the same argument.’"

When asked if she received the pay she desired, Thompson replied, "Let’s just say we’re all happy."

Thomas Whiteside/Marie Claire

The "Thor: Ragnorak" star credited the dialogue sparked by the Time’s Up movement in helping her start the conversation.

"[It] allowed me to say things I’m not sure I would have said a year ago," she said.

Not only is Thompson an active member of Time’s Up, but she’s also one of the proponents of the 4% challenge, which urges members of the film community to work with female directors.

The "Creed" star is also very vocal about the specific challenges women of color face.

"When we talk about issues of pay equity, that means something different to Natalie Portman than it does to me," she said. "Women who are not of color are talking about pay equity with men. [We] are so far away from that."

"I look at actresses who are not of color and at the opportunities that they’re presented in terms of directors wanting to make work for them," she later added. "When I look at my contemporaries of color, it’s only other artists of color who are doing that in a real, robust way."

Thompson also took a pop quiz with the publication. You can check out the video, below.


"Men In Black: International" hits theaters June 14.

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