How to Avoid Doing "The Michelle Williams" and Make All the Money in the World

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Let's say you’re Michelle Williams. You star in a film called “All the Money in the World” and you get paid a hefty sum for your work. And then the boss calls and says, “Hey, we need to reshoot because, well, one of our actors has maybe done some bad (sexually harassing, predatory) stuff that will impact the success of our film.” And you say, “OMG, how can I help?”

Your career is on the line. Your good work is in peril. And you are aware of the social good (PR) impact of being on the right side of history, so when they ask if you can clear your schedule for reshoots you say, “Anything to make it work, I’m there.”

Meanwhile, one of your cohorts, represented by the same agency, Mark Wahlberg, says, “Totally with you, and I’ll do anything to make the project work.” And voila, $1.5M appears in his bank account.

How Did This Happen? And What Can We Women Learn?

Easy. Mark negotiated for reshoot money in his original contract. Michelle did not, so all she got was per diem of $80 a day for the 10 day reshoot. That’s 1,000 times less than Mark.

Women, we have to have our own backs. We can’t blame our employers for not paying us what we’re worth if we chronically underestimate our value, and hesitate when we have an opportunity to negotiate. Those opportunities happen when:

  • You get a job offer.

  • Your duties and responsibilities change significantly.

  • You get a promotion.

  • Everyone around you is getting promoted but you are not.

  • Your contributions demonstrate that you’re operating at a more senior level (title change).

  • You exceed expectations routinely (bring in $$, save money, impact productivity).

  • You anticipate layoffs (yes, you can negotiate to keep your job).

  • You get laid off and want to ask for more severance, training, coaching, or to keep your benefits for a longer period of time.

And Here's One More Big One: Your Well Being

Yes. It’s possible to take care of YOU and the other person when you negotiate. If you have to double down on deliverables, like Michelle Williams, and scramble your schedule to accommodate an outcome, in negotiation terms, you’re making a concession, and all good concessions come with a request for reciprocity.

It’s up to you to have a conversation about resetting priorities to accommodate the current emergency and collaboratively decide how lesser priorities will be handled in a way that doesn’t destroy your wellbeing and still gets the job done.


Negotiation is one of the most important leadership skills. So take charge. Make your daily asks. The fear of being perceived as bossy, bitchy, and demanding will dissipate the more you ask. The more you practice. The more you show up as your own champion.

And what can we learn from Mark Wahlberg? He says, "I never work for free." It's interesting that director Ridley Scott was apparently upset that Mark asked to activate his reshoot $$ option in his contract, and not say, "Yeah, I'll take one for the Gipper due to the circumstances." And then Mark gave $2M to #TimesUp. If you don't work for free, look at the social good choices you have the option of doing with your money.