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An Uncomfortable Truth About Netflix Comedy Specials

An Uncomfortable Truth About Netflix Comedy Specials

Pass The Popcorn: Chris Rock Is Directing Amy Schumer's Forthcoming HBO Stand-Up Special

Amy Schumer asked for more money, but is the almighty dollar really what she or Netflix should’ve been going for in the sake of equal pay progress?

Netflix​ ​has​ ​never​ ​released​ ​an original​ ​comedy​ ​special​ ​by​ ​a​ ​black​ ​woman​ ​ever​ ​since they​ ​started​ ​booking​ ​them​ ​in​ ​2012.​ ​Only​ ​four​ ​specials​ ​by​ ​women​ ​of​ ​color​ ​have​ ​been produced​ ​in​ ​the​ ​five​ ​years​ ​since​ ​Netflix​ ​started​ ​producing​ ​original​ ​comedy​ ​specials:​ ​Cristela Alonzo,​ ​Ali​ ​Wong,​ ​Anjelah​ ​Johnson,​ ​and​ ​Sofia​ ​Niño​ ​de​ ​Rivera.​ ​To​ ​be​ ​clear,​ ​that​ ​is​ ​zero​ b​lack women​ ​and​ ​just​ ​four​ ​women​ ​of​ ​color​ ​out​ ​of​ ​91​ ​specials​ ​produced​ ​so​ ​far.

As​ ​​@Okayplayer​​ ​reported​ ​earlier​ ​this​ ​week,​ ​Amy​ ​Schumer​ ​asked​ ​for​ ​more​ ​money​ ​for​ ​her​ ​Netflix comedy​ ​special​ ​after​ ​learning​ ​that​ ​veterans​ ​Chris​ ​Rock​ ​and​ ​Dave​ ​Chappelle​ ​were​ ​offered​ ​about $9 million​ ​more​ ​than​ ​her​ ​for​ ​their​ ​comedy​ ​specials—​$20 million versus her $11 million.

While​ ​several​ ​media​ ​outlets​ ​have​ ​posited​ ​this​ ​as​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​“rah​ ​rah​ ​girl​ ​power”​ ​moment​ ​for​ ​the comedienne,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​difficult​ ​for​ ​me​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​this​ ​issue​ ​without​ ​breaking​ ​down​ ​how​ ​much​ ​worse​ ​the pay​ ​and​ ​opportunity​ ​gap​ ​is​ ​for​ ​women​ ​of​ ​color​ ​in​ ​Hollywood.

Consider​ ​this:​ ​​Black​ ​Women’s​ ​Equal​ ​Pay​ ​Da​y​ ​was​ ​started​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​awareness​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that black​ ​women​ ​have​ ​to​ ​work​ ​a​ ​full​ ​​18​ ​months​​ ​to​ ​earn​ ​what​ ​white​ ​men​ ​make​ ​in​ ​a​ ​year.​ ​Yvette Nicole​ ​Brown,​ ​of NBC’s ​​​Community​ ​​and​ ​the​ ​upcoming​ ​comedy​ ​​The​ ​Mayor​,​ ​recently​ ​shared​ ​a​ ​story where​ ​she​ ​found​ ​out​ ​she​ ​was​ ​making​ ​little​ ​more​ ​than​ ​a​ ​white​ ​male​ ​guest​ ​star​ ​on​ ​a​ ​show​ ​where she​ ​was​ ​a​ ​series​ ​regular.

Consider ​​this:​​ Tiffany​​ Haddish,​​ recently​​ released​​ a ​​comedy ​​special ​​on ​​Showtime,​ S​​he​​Ready! From​ ​the​ ​Hood​ ​to​ ​Hollywood!​​ ​She​ ​has​ ​been​ ​grinding​ ​in​ ​the​ ​comedy​ ​world​ ​for​ ​years​ ​and​ ​starred in​ ​​The​ ​Real​ ​Husbands​ ​of​ ​Hollywood​​ ​and​ ​the​ ​recently​ ​canceled​ ​​The​ ​Carmichael​ ​Show​​ ​before being​ ​cast​ ​in​ ​the​ ​deliriously​ ​raunchy​ ​and​ ​hilarious​ ​movie​ ​of​ ​the​ ​summer,​ G​​irls​ ​Trip​.​ ​

By​ ​the​ ​way, Girls​ ​Trip​​ ​became​ ​the​ ​first​ ​comedy​ ​in​ ​2017​ ​to​ ​earn​ ​more​ ​than​ ​$100 million​,​ ​something​ ​​Baywatch​​ ​and Rough​ ​Night​ ​​failed​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​

Given​ ​her​ ​talent​ ​and​ ​the​ ​successful​ ​movies​ ​and​ ​TV​ ​shows​ ​she​ ​has played​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​part​ ​in,​ ​I’m​ ​curious​ ​to​ ​know​ ​what​ ​she​ ​earned​ ​for​ ​her​ ​Showtime​ ​special​ ​and​ ​if Netflix​ ​has​ ​any​ ​plans​ ​on​ ​offering​ ​her​ ​a​ ​comedy​ ​deal.​ ​I​ ​would​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​whatever​ ​she​ ​earned [from Showtime] was​ ​close​ ​to​ ​the​ ​​ ​$11 million, Amy ​Schumer​ ​was​ ​initially​ ​offered​ ​by​ ​Netflix.

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Meanwhile,​ ​​Jerry​ ​Seinfield​ ​reportedly​ ​inked​ ​a​ ​$100 million​ ​deal​ ​for​ ​his​ ​Netflix​ ​comedy​ ​special.​ ​​If anything,​ ​one​ ​could​ ​argue​ ​that​ ​Chris​ ​Rock​ ​and​ ​Dave​ ​Chappelle​ s​​till​ ​​didn’t​ ​get​ ​what​ ​they were​ ​truly worth,​ ​given​ ​everything​ ​that​ ​these​ ​multi-hyphenate​ ​talents​ ​have​ ​accomplished​ ​during​ ​their decades-long​ ​careers.​ ​(​Black​ ​people​ ​have​ ​to​ ​fly​ ​to​ ​get​ ​to​ ​something​ ​white​ ​people​ ​can​ ​walk​ ​to.)

Equal​ ​pay​ ​remains​ ​a​ ​serious​ ​issue​ ​in​ ​Hollywood,​ ​and​ ​really,​ ​every​ ​industry.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​past​ ​time that​ ​we​ ​be​ ​more​ ​expansive​ ​in​ ​our​ ​thinking.​ ​Women​ ​of​ ​color​ ​and​ e​specially​​ ​black​ ​women,​ ​have an​ ​even​ ​harder​ ​path​ ​to​ ​navigate​ ​in​ ​Hollywood​ ​than​ ​the​ ​Amy​ ​Schumers​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​Despite their​ ​proven​ ​talent​ ​and​ ​their​ ​hard​ ​work,​ ​they​ ​are​ ​rarely​ ​given​ ​the​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​Netflix specials​ ​or​ ​movie​ ​deals​ ​at​ ​all—​let​ ​alone​ ​have​ ​the​ ​leverage​ ​and​ ​privilege​ ​to​ ​negotiate​ ​more money.​ ​Now I​ ​won’t​ ​ever​ ​fault​ ​someone​ ​for​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​get​ ​their​ ​coins,​ ​but,​ ​to​ ​quote​ ​the​ ​poet​ ​laureate Yasiin​ ​Bey​ ​(FKA​ ​Mos​ ​Def),​ ​“Your​ ​grind​ ​and​ ​my​ ​grind​ ​ain’t​ ​the​ ​same,​ ​dog.”

Danielle A. Scruggs is a Chicago-based photographer and writer who runs the website Black Women Directors and is also the Director of Photography at the Chicago Reader, an award-winning alt-weekly newspaper. Follow her on Twitter at @dascruggs and view her site at daniellescruggs.com.


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