Robin Wright Explains Why She Fought For Equal Pay For 'House of Cards'

Claire Underwood would be proud.
Jennifer Graylock

Claire Underwood certainly would not stand being paid less than a man for the same work -- and neither did her real-life counterpart, Robin Wright.

The actor, who plays the formidable first lady on Netflix's "House of Cards," opened up about demanding higher pay in an interview at The Rockefeller Foundation on Tuesday.

Until recently, Wright was paid less than her co-star Kevin Spacey, who was reportedly making $500,000 per episode on the show. The fourth season of the drama was just released on Netflix in March.

“I was looking at statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on that moment. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public,’” Wright said, flashing her trademark smile. “And they did.”

Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin had asked her about the barriers women face in getting ahead, and Wright mentioned the gender pay gap. In 2015, women still make just 79 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. The gap is worse for women of color.

Their conversation was part of a series called “Insight Dialogues,” discussions with thought leaders and activists hosted in New York. The Huffington Post is a media partner with The Rockefeller Foundation on the series.

The pay gap is so pernicious that women earn less than men in 439 major occupations, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Watch Wright's interview here (she mentions her demands for equal pay around 7:15):

Wright said that one of the things holding women back is the time out they take to raise children, mentioning that her career took a hit after she had her kids in the '90s -- just as she was gaining fame after starring roles in "The Princess Bride" and "Forrest Gump."

“Because I wasn’t working full time, I wasn’t building my salary bracket. If you don’t build salary bracket with notoriety and presence, then you’re not in the game anymore," Wright said.

Her kids are apparently doing their part to help her catch up. Last year, Wright's daughter, Dylan Penn, told Marie Claire that it was "crazy" her mother wasn't making the same as her co-star: "They both equally grab the attention of the audience."

Women in Hollywood have been speaking up more about equal pay ever since Patricia Arquette called for equality in her acceptance speech at the Oscars last year. Arquette, who was accepting an award for her role in the film "Boyhood," has since lost out on a couple of roles for taking a stand, she said earlier this year at a dinner in Beverly Hills, California, that The Huffington Post attended.

Still, since she spoke up, others have followed, including Jennifer Lawrence and Gillian Jacobs.

And judging from the Twittersphere, a lot of women are excited about this turn of events. Many were celebrating Wright's salary win on Tuesday and Wednesday.