Patricia Arquette fights for gender pay equity at the Oscars

"Boyhood" actress uses Oscar's acceptance speech to fight for wage equality and women's rights.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Patricia Arquette, winner of the award for best actress in a supporting role for 'Boyhood,' attends the Governors Ball after the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Los Angeles.

In the midst of the remarkably uneventful Academy Awards show  on Sunday, actress Patricia Arquette seized the opportunity during her acceptance speech to deliver an impassioned plea for wage equality and women’s rights.

She began by thanking the cast and crew of “Boyhood”  for their hard work and support, before launching into message.

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights,” Arquette said in her acceptance speech. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

The speech spurred the largest round of applause of the night, led by an enthusiastic Meryl Streep (“Into The Woods”), whom Arquette beat out for Best Supporting Actress, and Jennifer Lopez.

The speech was particularly poignant considering that the US gender wage gap has remained unchanged since “Boyhood” began filming in 2002, according to the National Journal.

Women are paid on average only 78 percent of what men in the same jobs are paid. While this is worse in some states than in others, it is a reality in all 50 states and women of color face an even greater wage gap, according to the American Association of University Women.

The speech won Arquette additional nominations, including a few for President of the United States.

Arquette won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mason’s mom in “Boyhood,” the 12-year-long epic depicting adolescence at its ugliest and motherhood at its most difficult. Throughout the film, her character struggles with raising her children amid poverty and divorce, balancing her career and family, and handling an existential crisis brought on by her children reaching adulthood themselves.

For Arquette, the timeline of the movie meant unapologetically aging on screen, in front of an industry that routinely dismisses actresses over 40.

“I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘oh my God, you are so beautifully in this movie. I just thought you looked so beautiful at the end,’” Arquette told HitFix. “And then some people will be, like, “How does it feel to watch yourself not be the hot girl anymore?’ or something. It says a lot more about them and their perception, but that’s the great thing about getting older and that’s the great thing about being around the block 100 million times by the time this comes out.” 

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