National Equal Pay Day goes down on April 2, 2019, which is the occasion that equal rights advocates hope to use to shine a light on the gender pay gap. To that end, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actress Laura Dern has partnered with NUT-rition snacks to raise awareness of how, in the U.S., women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. She also executive produced a hidden camera video to highlight how customers feel while purchasing gender specific bags of snacks — especially when male customers are limited to purchasing packs containing 20% less than the ones offered to their female counterparts. As one might expect, the folks in the video are surprised at the lack of equality before coming together in the end.
Dern was gracious enough to speak with Uproxx about pay equality as well as some juicy topics. This includes her role on HBO’s darkly comedic Big Little Lies (co-starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley), which will return in June for a second season that moves beyond Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel. In addition, she gave us some insight into working with Jeff Goldblum on Jurassic Park while fielding questions on the public’s enduring fascination with his notorious shirtless scene. We may have gotten a little carried away with the below conversation.
Hi, Laura. Happy Equal Pay Day?
Hi, Kimberly! You may have heard laughter in the background because [we’re talking] about gender pay parity and fierce generations of new girls, like my daughter, who are constantly making jokes about how absurd it is that we’re having to have these conversations.
Let’s hear about your partnership with NUT-rition and why you think it’s so important.
Well, it’s so important because it should no longer be a conversation. We’ve gotten to a place where we’re aware awareness exists. NUT-rition has come up with a really clever way to come on board and be a producer and creating this video that can help spread the word, not in a way that is assaultive, but in a way that’s asking for partnership. Men and women, they can both say, “Isn’t this nuts? Shouldn’t we do the fair thing, and let’s do this together.” I really appreciated that and helping raise awareness. That continues to be a passion of mine, but more on an activist level but also as an actress. With my job requirements, part of that is to help empower women to ask for more, to demand more, to use their voices. To demand that they be treated with respect and dignity and on a level playing field with their male colleagues.
How’s your pay gap experience in 2019 versus when you started out?
Now the light is on. When I was a kid starting out, I was sad that there were no women to talk to. Already, my mind was in the environment I worked in, which was a movie set that was all men, and maybe if you were lucky, there were three females. That’s the way movies are made. What I didn’t know is that there were women across all industries and all workplaces, thinking the same thing. It’s very exciting to find that when there is a discrepancy, and when there is something to be outraged about in terms of the lack of equality or parity, there’s a tribe around me of voices, and they’re not just female, they’re also men and sometimes men in positions of power who will at times thank you for pointing out something that is unjust. Part of that is because, as you and I both well know, something has shifted, and the consumer is asking questions differently, [and] the shareholders, the people in the boardroom. We must use our voices now that we have this slight foothold and a space to demand a difference.
That’s what the video reflects — the attitude of consumers. Did that turn out the way you wanted it to?
Oh, it was so great. We’re so excited and I think the creative was spot on not only in making the video in capturing the disgruntled nature of the shopper, but the outrage about the lack of parity and that it isn’t right. And then the sense of community at the end, you get a sense of people on the same side to point out the issue. But NUT-rition went further to team up with Equal Rights Advocates at PayGapIsNuts.com and to help fund a legal helpline for anyone who believes they’re experiencing the pay gap in the workplace. That’s massive.