In her first interview since stepping down as co-chair of Sony Pictures after the Studio suffered a devastating hacking attack, Amy Pascal admitted she was in fact, fired.
“All the women here are doing incredible things in this world,” Pascal joked while speaking to journalist Tina Brown at the Women in the World conference Wednesday night in San Francisco. “All I did was get fired.”
Pascal suffered an embarrassing blow after emails she wrote to producer Scott Rudin were leaked as a result of the hacking incident. In those exchanges, Pascal made jokes about President Obama’s movie preferences using suggestive racial bias, and Mr. Rudin called Angelina Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat.”
Though Ms. Pascal apologized for the content of the emails, Sony Pictures announced on February 5th that she was leaving her position as the Studio’s co-chair “to launch a major new production venture” at Sony.
According to a report by the AP, in her new role as producer, Pascal has inherited several of the studio’s biggest upcoming projects, including Sony’s next Spider-Man film, to be made in partnership with Marvel Studios.
Perhaps the best sound bite from the interview came in the 3:30 mark. When addressing the wage gap in Hollywood, Ms. Pascal said women shouldn’t work for less pay than men.
“I run a business,” she said. “[If] people want to work for less money, I’ll pay them less money. I don’t call them up and go, ‘Can I give you some more?’ cause that’s not what you do when you run a business. The truth is, what women have to do is not work for less money. They have to walk away. People shouldn’t be so grateful for jobs… People should know what they’re worth and say no.”
While it may be true that we write, say, and do things more casually and carelessly in private than we do in public, it’s no excuse for a high level exec to behave that way.
And Ms. Pascal acknowledged that in her apology.
“The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am. Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”
The recurrent advice we get as PR students from PR pros is “don’t say or do anything in private that you wouldn’t like to see on front page on the Wall Street Journal.”
A public person and a high-profile individual in any industry must act as if all he or she says, writes, or does may become public, whether this information is publicized legally or not.
After watching her exchange with Ms. Brown, one can clearly see how smart a woman she is. It is unbelievable that would let her guard down the way she did on those emails.
This is no BS. This is PR. In the aftermath of such an embarrassing scandal, it pays off being authentic and speaking candidly.
Finally, Pascal makes a great point about women saying no to less pay. It’s not a panacea solution to the gender pay gap but it may at least work in cases where the paycheck comes in 6 figures or more.
When I was working as a cleaning lady in Florida, hustling to pay my college tuition, I raised my rates as I became more experienced and acquired more affluent clients. Negotiating rates was such a sticking point and uncomfortable thing for me. But I learned to stand up for myself. After all, cleaning ladies a luxury for most people, and if you can’t afford one– guess what?!?– clean the house yourself or hire someone cheaper. I learned to charge what I was worth, even though this was no 6-figured gig.