Will #TimesUp catch in Polish show business?

In a recent interview, actress Sonia Bohosiewicz spoke about gender discrimination in the industry. and how negotiations with the producers of a new TV series failed when she asked to be paid as much as her male counterpart.

Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko NewsMavens, Poland
Will #TimesUp catch in Polish show business? - NewsMavens
Sonia Bohosiewicz. Wysokie Obcasy

Why this story matters:

The Polish entertainment industry did not witness a local version of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements. Apart from some lone voices, the women remained silent on the issue of sexual violence and the gender pay gap.

Part of the reason is that the industry is small. An actress who earns a reputation of being “difficult” and “demanding” is thus quickly blacklisted. If it took Hollywood stars more than 50 years to speak out -- and hardly any Polish actress has the status of a local Meryl Streep or Jennifer Lawrence -- it would be unrealistic to expect a quick revolution. Especially since show business here is dominated by male producers, directors and distributors.

Polish actresses who dare to go public with stories of discrimination often face a brutal backlash. When, in March 2019, actress Weronika Rosati spoke out about the domestic abuse she had suffered at the hands of her partner, a successful doctor, a wave of victim-blaming followed.

As Sonia Bohosiewicz explained in the cover story interview for “Wysokie Obcasy” magazine, actresses still face a variety of harmful stereotypes. A domestic violence survivor can forget about playing the part of a strong and feisty seductress. An actress “caught” by paparazzis while having an affair with a married man will no longer receive advertising contracts. This is why women choose silence.

Another major obstacle in the debate is the lack of precise data on the gender pay gap in the entertainment industry. It’s a hush hush business, where contracts are largely negotiated individually, and behind closed doors. The wages are relative and dependent on a variety of factors as elusive as popularity, the number of awards, likes, followers. However, as Bohosiewicz remarked, in order to expose the basic structures of discrimination, it would be enough to combine the wages of the five best-paid male actors and their female counterparts. That is -- if they were willing to share it.

Details from the story:

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Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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