Laura Dern continues to be at the forefront of change sweeping across Hollywood, and she wants people to know that she's hoping to encourage action and equality across industries.
The actress is speaking out in honor of Equal Pay Day, April 2, calling attention to the gender pay gap, in which women make 80 cents to for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Though a lot of the noise and headlines are coming from the film industry, Dern "hopes to raise awareness about the gender pay gap, so hopefully the next generation -- my kids -- don't having to deal with it," regardless of occupation.
"The thing that I think that was so profound for Time’s Up is that many women from my industry and many actresses shared their experiences to say that it’s happening to all of us. We didn’t say anything for so long, because we were fed a belief system, which is, ‘Are you kidding? You’re lucky enough to be acting in a movie. You can’t complain and ask for more money,'" Dern told AOL's Gibson Johns during a phone call this week. "There are women in real jobs who have these problems, and all this rhetoric that intimidated women in my industry to be silent instead of using their platform to speak up and realize that there is power in numbers needs to stop. Whatever industry you’re in, we have to come together as fellow female workers across industries and say, ‘We have the right to be paid equally.'"
Dern recalled a recent interaction with a male peer of hers, in which she showed her appreciation for all the work that he's doing "at a major company." His reaction? "Why are you thanking me? I was raised by a mom who held three jobs to put me through school. That’s why I’m here. This is what we all have to be doing."
Laura Dern with her children
Laura Dern with her children
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: (L-R) Laura Dern, Ellery Harper, Jaya Harper and Diane Ladd attend ELLE's 24th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration presented by L'Oreal Paris, Real Is Rare, Real Is A Diamond and CALVIN KLEIN at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for ELLE)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: (L-R) Ellery Harper, Laura Dern and Jaya Harper attend ELLE's 24th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration presented by L'Oreal Paris, Real Is Rare, Real Is A Diamond and CALVIN KLEIN at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for ELLE)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Laura Dern, son Ellery Walker Harper and daughter Jaya Harper arrive at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: (L-R) Actor Ellery Walker Harper, actress Laura Dern and Jaya Walker attend HBO's Post Emmy Awards Reception at The Plaza at the Pacific Design Center on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
MALIBU, CA - MAY 11: Ellery Walker Harper, Laura Dern and Freida Pinto at Christian Dior Cruise 2018 Show and After Party at Gladstone's Malibu on May 11, 2017 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Christian Dior)
US actress Laura Dern (C) poses with her children, Ellery Walker Harper (L) and Jaya Harper, on the red carpet before the opening ceremony of the 43rd Deauville US Film Festival in the French northwestern sea resort of Deauville on September 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
PALM SPRINGS, CA - JANUARY 02: Laura Dern, Jaya Harper arrives at the 28th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Awards Gala at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 2, 2017 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 11: Actress Laura Dern (R) and her daughter Jaya Harper arrive at the premiere of the Weinstein Company's 'The Founder' at the Cinerama Dome on January 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Laura Dern and daughter Jaya Harper attend the 7th annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade at UCLA on September 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Alex's Lemonade)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: (L-R) Ellery Walker Harper, Jaya Harper actors Bruce Dern and Laura Dern attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 11: (L-R)) Actress Laura Dern and her son Ellery Walker Harper attend the premiere of 'Nebraska' at AFI FEST 2013 on November 11, 2013 at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
Laura Dern (L) and son Ellery Walker arrive at 2011 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at The Shrine Auditorium on December 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. 21959_008_JS_0738.JPG
EXCLUSIVE Laura Dern and Ben Harper Los Angeles December 1 2008 Laura Dern, Ben Harper and their two daughters Ellery and Jaya goes to Disneyland . Among the attractions they visited Tea Cup and Toonstown ID revpix81201022 (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
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For the "Big Little Lies" actress, his response is emblematic of how other men should also be acting: After all, it's men who still hold a large majority of leadership roles across all industries in the United States, so it's critical for men to help enact change, too.
"I'm so grateful for my male advocate leaders who I get to work with in my industry who feel it’s a moral obligation to make sure there’s parity in their board rooms to start with to then fight for parity behind the camera, in front of the camera and in the content they’re creating," she said.
As part of her work to close the gender pay gap, Dern executive-produced a hidden camera video for NUT-rition which playfully turns the tables on men, to put them in the shoes of women who are expected to do the same work for less money simply because of their gender.
"I wanted to spread awareness for Equal Pay Day, because we’re all trying to use our voices to raise awareness and have people tangibly understand the absurdity of the numbers that we’re still having to have the conversation around," she explained. "People are still afraid and feeling abuses of power about going to HR in their companies, and they’re figuring out how to use their voices without losing their jobs. This is going on everywhere, across all industries, so the fact that NUT-rition figured out a tangible way to create messaging, but then be in partnership with Equal Rights Advocates, which is available to anyone experiencing a pay gap discrepancy, that’s incredible to me."
Find out more about Laura Dern's work with NUT-rition here.