In a new interview with Essence magazine, Oscars host Chris Rock discusses the treatment of black actresses in Hollywood, and calls out the industry’s highest-paid leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence.
“I’ve never done a movie, any movie, the silliest movie, where someone, some studio person hasn’t gone, ‘Does the girl have to be Black?’” the 50-year-old told the publication’s March Hollywood Issue in an interview conducted before this year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
Rock also showed little sympathy for Lawrence, named the world’s highest paid actress by Forbes last year, who was celebrated for writing an essay for Lena Dunham’s feminist newsletter condemning Hollywood’s gender pay gap.
“It happens every time. Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood,” said Rock. “Everybody’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence. Talk to Gabrielle Union. If you want to hear stories, talk to Nia Long. Talk to Kerry Washington.”
“They would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place, or just be treated with the same amount of respect,” he said.
Lawrence hauled in an estimated $52 million in 2015, Forbes estimated.
Rock told The New Yorker last month, “Black women have the hardest gig in show business…. You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman—if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.”
When asked by Essence what he has done to assist black women in the industry, the comedian said, “I think everything I’ve ever done has had a significant role for a black or brown woman. I refuse not to.”
“I’ve never gone into battle without a black woman, you know, a movie battle,” he said. “With Tichina Arnold in Everybody Hates Chris, I had to fight for Tichina. I’m not even going to tell you who the network wanted. She’s literally as good as Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Dreyfus or any of these chicks. They’re like, ‘Tichina who’?’”
Rock will host the 88th Academy Awards on February 28.
The comedian has been relatively quiet about this year’s race controversy, which was renewed last month after the Academy announced all the acting nominees are white for the second straight year.
Chris Rock’s full Essence interview will hit newsstands on February 12.