You don’t hear celebrity women talk candidly about money very often. So when I read The Hollywood Reporter’s comedy roundtable and heard women like Amy Schumer (MY GIRL CRUSH) and Lena Dunham, among other popular TV stars right now talking about money and how they are dealing with it, I knew I had to share it with the Lucky Bee community.
It’s IMPORTANT for us to talk honestly about money. To normalize what it’s like to have money (the pros and cons). Otherwise, we’re only hearing and seeing extreme versions of rich women.The only time I hear famous women talk about money is on the Real Housewives of Whatever – and the Kardashians. ALL of those experiences are valid – but, this feels more real and relatable.
There are famous, accomplished women out there earning money who have conflicting feelings about it – just like you and me. Who struggle with self worth. They’re just doing it in a more public arena.
This interview covers topics like sexism in Hollywood – definitely read it in full – but here are the most interesting money highlights:
Another ugly side of the business that was revealed in the Sony hack was the pay disparity between male and female executives and talent. What’s the biggest fight you’ve had about money?
ELLIE KEMPER I’m not powerful enough to have that fight.
KATE MCKINNON I’ll work for a hamburger.
You really feel like that?
MCKINNON I just want to be onstage. And I want a hamburger.
This is fascinating right? Because how often do we hear women in business say things like “I’m not here to make money. I just want to help people!”.
We just want to be in the game. To be “on stage”. The “hamburger” (ie. money) feels like a bonus.
It’s fascinating right? Because so many of us have something amazing to “sell” but we get blocked. We freak out that it’s Mercury Retrograde, or that we’re charging too much. (I talked about this on stage in London – this video is going viral)
And here’s the interesting thing. You totally SHOULD be in a business that you love so much that you’d do it for free. But the most powerful thing happens when you love it and actually don’t do it for free. That’s the sweet spot.
What are you “worth”?
Whatever you want. There is a sweet spot because what you can offer and what the market is looking for. But it’s more flexible than you think it is.
Even Lena Dunham who is the boss of her own show is probably underpaid.
LENA DUNHAM [Lean In author] Sheryl Sandberg once asked me, “Do you know what you make compared to men who run an HBO show?” and I was like, “Why would I ever ask about that? I can pay for dog food, and I have an apartment.” I hear my boyfriend [musician Jack Antonoff] on the phone all the time saying, “I’m worth more than that.” I do not have that skill.
And here’s the thing. You finally get to the place where you do what you love and you get paid for it. But maybe you hit an income plateau and you think, “Well – too much more would be unseemly”
You fought for more money for a stand-up gig?
AMY SCHUMER A couple years ago, I heard how much Floyd Mayweather charged for fights. Yeah. I’m like, “These people are only going to be there because of me, so I’m not crazy.”
And that’s why you should never compare your prices to other people in your industry. People want YOU. If they are price comparison shopping, then you don’t want them for your customers because there will always be someone willing to do it cheaper.
If Amy Schumer comes to my town, I will pay her prices. I’m not going to look around and go, “How can I get this same experience cheaper?”
What are you “allowed” to charge?
But nobody is going to give you permission to charge good prices. YOU have to set it. And that’s the bad side of having your own business. Nobody can tell you what to charge. And that’s the awesome thing about your own business – you don’t have to ask your boss for more money!
KEMPER I once heard an exec say, “If you don’t ask for it, we can’t give it to you.” We can’t go through our lives just being grateful for everything.
Everyone is going to have an opinion on if you’re worth it!
But it will mostly come from you, and your fears about it. Who cares what other people think.
DUNHAM When it was leaked how much I was getting for my book [a reported $3.7 million for Not That Kind of Girl], there were 39,000 articles asking, “Is she worth it?” Then it came out what [comedian] Aziz Ansari was making on his book [a reported $3.5 million]. No one says a goddamn word.
What kind of rich woman do you want to be?
Do you worry that money will change you? Turn you into a diva or a spoilt brat. Maybe it will, but if you have good friends and family around you, you’ll probably self correct before anything bad happens!
But you’re also allowed to be ANY kind of rich woman you want. You can wear flip-flops or louboutins. There’s no right or wrong. Money is neutral. It’s us to attribute morality to it.
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS I was raised by a woman [singer Diana Ross] who has high standards for what she’s worth, which has been called “diva behavior.” I have witnessed flagrant, disgusting behavior, and that is not my mother. There is a way to be a woman, ask for what we deserve and be able to negotiate.
SCHUMER I did recently go on my first private jet. I caught myself before saying, “We need a bigger jet.” Three years ago, I’m begging for half-off potato skins, and now I’m like, “This jet is wack.”
But seriously – how refreshing is it hearing about this?!
Why do you want to be rich?
Do you dream about being able to help your friends and family? To give money to charities that light you up? Travel around the world with your laptop? Buy a beach side mansion?
All of those things are okay.
GINA RODRIGUEZ I gave my grandmother a fat f—ing check. I was like, “This is for you.” And she’s like, “Ah, no, nopuedo” [I can’t]. I was like, “Just take it.” She opens it, sees the amount and “All right!” (Laughs.)
ROSS I’m driving a really fancy car now. An SL550 Mercedes, and that shit is brilliant. I don’t have a two-car garage. So my best friend now has my car.
haha – “that shit is brilliant”. THE BEST.
And I’ll end with Lena Dunham, who sums up my feelings exactly,
DUNHAM I want women to have all the things.
For a long time, I didn’t think that I was “allowed” to talk about money. I’m pretty clear about the fact that I’m not an accountant, I’m not a financial advisor. I can’t give you expert advice about money.
But my mission is becoming clearer. And I feel good about contributing to the conversation.
I want women to feel empowered about money. Feeling okay about earning it, spending it and growing our incomes. To feel powerful and create a good money team around us.
Maybe not to millionaire levels, if you don’t want that. Maybe you want to be a billionaire. Neither is better or worse than the other. It’s not more or less moral.
But they key is CHOICE. Freedom. Empowerment.
But I’ve seen many women in my life feel trapped because of their financial circumstances. Feeling like they couldn’t leave their partners. Working low wage jobs they hated because they didn’t have a choice. Making do. Having a secret “running away” cash fund.
But we can change all that. Not only for our generation, but for the next one too. Imagine how the world will change when women have more money? Countries in the developing world prosper when women are empowered.
Women spend money in different ways. How many other female entrepreneurs have you supported with your business? How many jobs have you created (or will create) when you outsource work that’s not in your zone of genius. We’re shown to be more philanthropic. It’s not the “trickle down” effect.
We’re creating a ripple effect.
Guys I’m so proud of us.
I want us to have all the things too.
P.S If you know you some help with your money mindset (and we ALL do), have a listen to this free audio class where I talk about 7 common money blocks for women in business. Access it here. It could be the best 30 minutes you can spend today.
The full interview first appeared in the June 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine and can be read online here. There’s video too!