Viola Davis Is 'The Black Meryl Streep' But She Earns Less and Fans Are Angry

The internet is demanding justice for Viola Davis' bank account.

A video of the award-winning actor at the 2018 Women in the World event resurfaced online on Tuesday, leading fans to call for equal pay and opportunities for Davis. In the clip, Davis spoke with journalist Tina Brown about the way filmmakers often refer to her as "the Black Meryl Streep" but notes that studios aren't cutting checks or offering her roles equal to those the other actress receives.

"I got the Oscar. I got the Emmy. I got the two Tonys. I've done Broadway. I've done off-Broadway. I've done TV. I've done film. I've done all of it. I have a career that's probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver. They all came out of Yale. They came out of Juilliard. They came out of NYU. They had the same path as me, and yet, I am nowhere near them. Not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities—nowhere close to it," Davis explained. "But I have to get on that phone and people say, 'You're a Black Meryl Streep. There is no one like you.' O.k., then if there's no one like me—you think I'm that—you pay me what I'm worth. You give me what I'm worth."

This!!!!!! All day THIS!!!! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿพ https://t.co/z0Bq84x2Lp

— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) July 1, 2020

Across the Twitterverse, fans and fellow celebrities such as Gabrielle Union alike supported Davis while condemning Hollywood for its continued pay disparities between Black and white actors.

"Viola Davis is one of the greatest actors. Not one of the greatest black actors. Not one of the greatest female actors. NO. She IS one of the greatest actors. Period," one person tweeted.

Viola Davis is one of the greatest actors. Not one of the greatest black actors. Not one of the greatest female actors. NO. She IS one of the greatest actors. Period.

— fagocean (@fagocean) July 1, 2020

Another wrote: "Viola Davis is not 'the Black Meryl Streep' she is 'THE Viola Davis. [White] is not the gold standard by which everyone is measured against. Pay Black people what they are worth."

Viola Davis is not "the Black Meryl Streep" she is "THE Viola Davis". โšช is not the gold standard by which everyone is measured against. Pay Black people what they are worth. https://t.co/ORigsJYw3e

— BlackWomenViews Media (@blackwomenviews) July 1, 2020

Despite the industry's attempts to improve, the wealth gap between white actors and actors of color is still jarring. Only one woman of color, Sofia Vergara, made Forbes' 2019 list of the highest-paid actresses. The previous year the publication had to separate television and film categories just for Kerry Washington, who grossed $11 million in 2018, to make the list.

Viola Davis Is "The Black Meryl Streep"
Viola Davis joins Lโ€™Orรฉal Paris to celebrate the launch of Age Perfect Cosmetics on March 03, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. A 2018 video of Davis speaking about pay inequality between white and Black actors resurfaced online on July 1, 2020. Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Davis has long used her platform to call for equality for Black people. She most recently teamed up with acting elites including Idris Elba, Queen Latifah, Chadwick Boseman, Washington and more than 300 others to launch the Hollywood4BlackLives initiative, a campaign urging Hollywood to do more to combat racism in America and the film industry. In an open letter released in June, the group called on Hollywood to invest more resources into anti-racist content and the careers and development of Black creatives.

"Hollywood has a privilege as a creative industry to imagine and create. We have significant influence over culture and politics," the letter read. "We have the ability to use our influence to imagine and create a better world. Yet, historically and currently, Hollywood encourages the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness."

The statement continued: "The way that Hollywood and mainstream media have contributed to the criminalization of Black people, the misrepresentation of the legal system, and the glorification of police corruption and violence have had dire consequences on Black lives."

Say it loud, say it often. She's not the Black Meryl Streep...she is Viola Davis and that is MORE than enough. https://t.co/fGdbiy6JPe

— Black Girls Create (@blkgirlscreate) July 1, 2020

Viola Davis ATE Meryl Streep UP in this scene! Stop the comparisons and the empty ass compliments Hollywood!

Run Viola Davis HER COINS ๐Ÿ’ฐ pic.twitter.com/6vqpK719UJ

— Jessica Fyre๐Ÿ’ซโœจ (@TheJessieWoo) July 1, 2020

On behalf of ALLLLLL the Black women who appear on TV. Or, I suppose, exist anywhere. This this this this๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿฝ https://t.co/oNyzQLBOew

— @tiffanydcross (@TiffanyDCross) July 1, 2020