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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’d give my legs to Shonda Rhimes if she asked. Okay, while that may be an exaggeration, I do follow Rhimes’ work on the daily. So when I received news of Ellen Pompeo, the titular character Meredith Grey on Rhimes’ iconic show Grey’s Anatomy, finally receiving the deal of a 20 million dollar salary, I was overjoyed; however, when I shared this with my friends and family, they fixed me with a puzzled look. “Uh, isn’t she already one of the most paid people on television?”

They didn’t mean any harm by it. To the layperson, 20 million dollars is nearly unimaginable. 20 million dollars. What would I even do with 20 million dollars? Buy a puppy farm? Who knows. But it’d be improper to compare a celebrity’s paycheck to that of an average person’s, as much as I myself like to pretend that I’m the very own star of the sitcom that is my life. We can compare it to other celebrities’ salaries, though. For example, why is it that there are tens of millions of dollars in difference between the highest paid actress and actor’s salaries in 2017?

No really, why is that Emma Stone and Mark Wahlberg have a difference of 42 million dollars when I haven’t even heard of this man before? I’m serious! I just looked up his work and I’ve never heard of the movies he’s been in other than ‘Transformers’ (which is irrelevant now that Shia isn’t in it, let’s be real) and ‘Ted,’ which I ignored the existence of because a personified teddy bear is already scary enough, but the fact that he’s the toy equivalent of Louis C.K. makes my skin crawl. His Wikipedia page is just some weaksauce overcompensation for his lack of accomplishments. The most notable thing about him is that he replaced Kevin Spacey… cool? Meanwhile, everyone and their dog ought to know who Emma Stone is. Easy A. The Help. Crazy, Stupid, Love. La La Land. The Amazing Spider-Man. Golden Globe, Sag Award, you-name-it-she’s-got-it winner. Look me in the eye and tell me how Mark Wahlberg is somehow more deserving of such a high pay in comparison to the queen who is Emma Stone.

This is a bigger issue than just Hollywood. It isn’t fair for celebrities, but at the end of the day they’re still stinking rich, so why should the average citizen care? Because it’s true to everyday life. Not only is there a gap between men and women in general — the gap grows larger and larger between women of color. According to the American Association of University Women, for every dollar a white man makes, a white woman makes 78 cents, a black woman 64 cents, a Latina woman 54 cents, and the list goes on. While this rhetoric is repeated often, the issues don’t stop there. In 2014, 29% of black women and 28% of Hispanic women in the United States were forced into part-time jobs, compared to the 16% of their white counterparts. It is crucial that big figures talk about the wage gap because it opens up the conversation for people in general to discuss its ramifications.

That’s why Pompeo opening up about her struggle for the deal is so important. She had to bend over backward, she’s been the face of this show since 2005, and has recently become a producer of the show, as well. “…I’ve been this character for 14 years,” Pompeo said in her interview for the Hollywood Report. “But the truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that’s a skill.” She’s aware of her worth and she fought for it. I think that’s a common trope amongst powerful women on the daily. Thank you, Ellen, for being an example for women to not lose hope when the going gets rough and to continue striving for what we deserve. We are proud of you.

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Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor