Michelle Williams won big at the Emmys, taking home the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her performance as Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon. Afterwards, Williams made headlines for delivering a rousing speech about equal pay.
“I see this as an acknowledgement of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they’ll be heard,” she said. “When I asked for my dance classes, I heard ‘yes.’ When I asked for more voice lessons, I heard ‘yes.’ A different wig, a pair of teeth not made out of rubber, ‘yes.’ All these things, they require effort and they cost more money, but my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed to do my job and to honor Gwen Verdon.”
“Next time a woman, and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” Williams added. “Believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say ‘thank you’ for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment, not in spite of it.”
Williams became a major figurehead in the conversation surrounding equal pay for women after last year’s big reveal that co-star Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million for reshoots on Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World while Williams got scale. Her speech quickly went viral.
But because this is 2019, Williams speech also brought out sexist trolls. And they proceeded to descend upon social media pages for Michelle Williams–the singer, not the actress.
The Destiny’s Child Williams took to her Instagram stories to beg the trolls to just leave her alone. “I’m so sorry my namesake upset you,” she said. “But can’t you see that I’m black?!”
“I stand beside Michelle Williams on her speech, okay?” said the singer. “She was beautiful, she was brilliant. She played Gwen Verdon to a tee. She was awesome.”
“Now get it right,” she concluded. “And stop cussing me out.”