Octavia Spencer has revealed how her friend and colleague Jessica Chastain helped her secure a pay hike five times bigger than her initial salary for a film they are both working on.

The Hollywood gender pay gap has been a recurring theme in the film industry over the past couple of years, and was the subject of conversation during a panel titled ‘Women Breaking Barriers’ at the Sundance Film Festival this week – in which Spencer took part.

On Wednesday (January 24th), former Oscar-winner Spencer said that Chastain insisted that her friend – with whom she starred in The Help back in 2011 – get paid the same as her during negotiations for a new holiday comedy. Not only did she achieve that, but she got a raise for both of them that was substantially higher than what had first been put on offer.

Octavia SpencerOctavia Spencer

When Chastain approached her, Spencer explained how women of colour were getting less than white actresses.

“Here’s the thing, women of colour on that spectrum, we make far less than white women,” she told Chastain on the phone, according to Spencer. “So, if we’re gonna have that conversation about pay equity, we gotta bring the women of colour to the table.”

More: Jodie Foster comments on Hollywood gender pay gap [archive]

“And I told her my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that’s what it was like for women of colour,” she continued.

Spencer began to cry “happy tears”, and then added: “I love that woman because she’s walking the walk and she’s actually talking the talk. She said, ‘Octavia we’re gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. We’re gonna be favoured nations, and we’re gonna make the same thing’. Fast forward to last week, we’re making five times what we asked for.”

Jessica ChastainJessica Chastain

Finishing the story, Octavia then quipped: “Now, I wanna go to what the men are making!”

Earlier this week, Spencer received her third Oscar nomination for her role in The Shape of Water. She got a nod last year for Hidden Figures, and won Best Supporting Actress category for her role in the aforementioned The Help back in 2012.

More: Jennifer Lawrence explains her gender pay gap essay was ‘self-critical’ [archive]