In an unsurprising turn of events, Scarlett Johannson has topped Forbes’ list of highest female earners for the second year in a row.
Johannson, who notably plays Black Widow earned a whopping $56 million this year. That number includes an eight-figure check for the upcoming origin story for the character, and $35 million for the $2.8 billion-grossing Avengers: Endgame. That big payout comes, no doubt, because Johannson has little issue taking up space where she probably shouldn’t.
“Today there’s a lot of emphasis and conversation about what acting is and who we want to see represent ourselves on screen,” the actress reportedly told As If magazine. “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.” She has since said the statement was “widely” taken out of context to create “clickbait” but when you look at her actions … she certainly seems to believe it.
Johannson came under fire in 2018 for accepting a role in a feature called Rub & Tug, about the true-life story of Dante “Text” Gill: a trans man who ran a massage parlor and prostitution ring in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and ’80s. Johannson’s representatives originally defended her decision to take the role by pointing out other cisgender actors who have played trans people like Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman. The statement only heightened the criticism.
After the fallout, Johannson gave an exclusive statement to Out. “I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues,” she wrote. “While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.”
Just a year earlier, Johannson received similar criticism for whitewashing, Ghost in the Shell, in which she played a character who was Japanese in the original manga series.
Perhaps Johannson can use her money to uplift the communities she has tried so eagerly to portray. And perhaps the film industry can consider hiring trans actors for the roles they so readily give to cisgender actors in misguided attempts to increase visibility.
Forbes’ reports that Johansson tops the list alongside newcomers Elisabeth Moss and Margot Robbie, as well as returnees Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon. The world’s ten highest-paid actresses, who are exclusively cisgender and almost exclusively white, have made a combined $314.6 million between June 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019 before fees and taxes, which is less than the $588.3 million the top ten actors made.