Culture

Producer To Mila Kunis: 'You'll Never Work In This Town Again'

Early in her career, before she was a household name and movie star in her own right, Mila Kunis was pressured by a Hollywood producer to pose "semi-naked on the cover of a men's magazine to promote our film."

When Kunis refused, the producer dismissed her with a curt: "You'll never work in this town again."

But Kunis writes that she's the one who had the last laugh when she refused to compromise her morals and went on to stardom anyway. She shared the anecdote -- and another example of sexism -- in an open letter for A Plus magazine published on Nov. 2.

Kunis, who is best known for her role on "That 70s Show," voicing Meg Griffin on "Family Guy," and starring in movies like "Jupiter Ascending" and "The Book of Eli," said the producer who pressured her sparked "the exact fear every woman feels when confronted with gender bias in the workplace."

"I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said 'no,'" Kunis wrote. "And guess what? The world didn't end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again, and again."

As a woman, Kunis wrote, she's been paid less than male co-stars, insulted, "creatively ignored" and "otherwised diminished" by powerbrokers in Hollywood. That's why she started her own production company, she says, so she could work with "incredible producers, male and female, who have treated us as true equals and partners."

Kunis is worth about $30 million, according to the celebrity site HowRich. The website says films in which she has a starring role average about $88 million each in box office receipts. Kunis and other cast members of "Family Guy" were also in the news in 2013, when they successfully negotiated raises. The four main cast members, including Kunis, Seth Green, Alex Borstein and Mike Henry, earn between $175,000 and $225,000 each per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The other example of sexism Kunis detailed happened when she approached a TV network to pitch a show idea. In a follow-up email, a producer from that network expressed excitement at working with Kunis.

"And Mila is a mega star," the producer wrote, according to Kunis. "One of the biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be (actor Ashton Kutcher's) wife and baby momma!!!"

That producer "reduced my value to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children," Kunis wrote, explaining why her team withdrew their pitch from the network.

Kunis did not name the producers in either of the anecdotes she shared, but addressed them directly in her letter.

"I will work in this town again," she wrote, "but I will not work with you."

Sources: A Plus, The Hollywood Reporter, HowRich / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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