Strolling the red carpet and appearing on the big screen are just the flashy elements of the job most people see. Behind the scenes, she’s spearheading a movement for equality — and forging her own path to accomplish it all.
Jessica Chastain is a woman of many talents. There’s acting, of course. The two-time Academy Award nominee has starred in over 25 movies, including The Forgiven, which explores the dramatic fallout following a random accident (to be released this year); The Eyes of Tammy Faye, about televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker; and The 355, an international spy thriller about female agents trying to retrieve a top-secret weapon, which comes out in early 2022.
But you may not know that Jessica is also a trained chef who loves cooking, a former ballerina who once went on tour, and the founder of a production company, Freckle Films, who has some forward-thinking business ideas. Case in point: For The 355, which she also produced, Jessica, 43, came up with a plan for all the actors to be paid equally (she is a fierce proponent of fair pay) and share in the film’s profits. “A lot of times, our names are used to sell movies, and that’s how the money is raised for them,” Jessica explains. “So I thought, If our names are being sold, then we need to be the owners of the film.”
When she pitched The 355 to her costars Lupita Nyong’o, Pene?lope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Fan Bingbing, Jessica told them, “If you do this movie, you’re going to have to agree to sell it, because you will be an owner. We’re going to sell the distribution rights to raise the budget for the film, and then everyone owns a portion of the box office,” she recalls. The actors all agreed, and the film rights quickly sold. “I don’t know if anything like this has been done before, and honestly, I’m a bit shocked I got away with it,” says Jessica. “But hopefully it creates a new model in which artists can own their work.”
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