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Interview with Samira Wiley | “Black women are making 38% on average less than white men”

*Interview in collaboration with Secret Deodorant*

 

Samira Wiley has been taking our screens by storm the past few years. If you haven’t seen her on “Orange is the New Black” then you’ve probably seen her on “Handmaid’s Tale” and we’re sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the future. We were lucky enough to talk with Samira about what she’s been up to. Talking about her work with Secret Deodorant‘s “I’d Rather Get Paid” campaign, how she handles social media, and representation and diversity in the entertainment industry, Samira inspired us to know our worth and we hope you will too.

Considering your work keeps you so busy, how did you decide you wanted to be a part of Secret’s “I’d Rather Get Paid” campaign?

I’ve always liked that Secret supports women across the board, including when we’re in stressful situations. So when I learned that they were using their platform to bring more attention to the wage gap in a fun, yet powerful music video, I was immediately interested. The wage gap, especially for black women, is huge! Black women are actually making 38% on average less than white men. If you add it all up, the gender pay gap results in billions in lost wages each year for women, which is SO much money overall! If we’re doing the same work, we need to be paid the same! 

 

“I’d Rather Get Paid” pokes some fun at some of the more cloy gestures that attempt to implement equality for women, such as “slogans on feminist tees.” How do you feel about those token gestures? Do they set us back, or do you think they can be helpful?

I don’t think these small gestures hold us back, but it’s clearly not enough to get us where we need to be, which is why Secret alludes to those gestures in the video. The wage gap is undeniably a complex issue that requires commitment from the people and corporations with the most power and ability to make an impact. But, individual efforts add up as well and can spark a greater movement that has equally impactful outcomes.

 

Since social media is a big part of movement making these days, do you have any tips or tricks on navigating the world of social media?

I don’t really! I do know that social media ceases to be fun when you cease to have fun doing it. So I always try to remember not to use Instagram because I have to. “I have to check in with my friends and see what they are saying about this” or “I have to chime in on this issue or that issue.” If we can remember to use it to have fun and connect with each as other, then it can continue to bring us joy.

There are so many amazing women nominated this season. Anyone in particular you’re rooting for?

I have been rooting for Sandra Oh all awards season long! Because, diversity (yes, yes, yay!) and most importantly, Sandra Oh is a badass! Progress for one woman is progress for all women. 

 

I imagine you can see firsthand with your work on “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Orange Is the New Black” how television can thrive with women led casts and crew. Considering your experiences on these shows, have they affected how you will choose roles for future projects?

These projects have definitely made me hyper aware of who is in leadership roles for whatever future projects I will be working on. Because of how I started in the industry, the jobs that I will have in the future will always be heavily influenced by the women in power on those two amazing series. One of the reasons I was so excited that Secret reached out to me for “I’d Rather Get Paid” is because of the awesome group of females involved in the project. It was so rewarding to work alongside activists like Sophia Bush, one of the best WNBA players, Swin Cash, and female director Raine Allen-Miller. 

 

Representation and diversity on screen matter, is there someone you saw that made you think, “I can do this too?”

That was Angela Basset for me. I don’t know if I could have dreamed this big for myself without her. She was everything. She was strong, she was sexy, she was smart. She was my role model. Plain and simple. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to young girls growing up today who want to follow their dreams and get paid fairly?

Know your worth. People can get away with just about anything when it comes to someone who doesn’t know their own worth. When you know your worth, you hold all the power. Knowing your worth at work impacts how you fight for equal pay. As part of the “I’d Rather Get Paid” campaign, Secret teamed up with Ladies Get Paid to create a toolkit that has a bunch of helpful tips and actionable information that will help you advocate for yourself at work. For those trying to figure out where to start, I’d recommend checking it out here.

 

Do you have any personal goals for the year?

Continue my personal pursuit of a life filled with joy.

 

Can you tell us what you’ve been listening to on repeat? Anything you’ve recently binge watched on TV?

I just watched both Fyre Festival docs, so there! Lol.

interview by Candice Chantalou