Khary Payton campaigns for equal pay for his The Walking Dead co-star, Lauren Cohan. Besides the onscreen commotion and its ratings decline, AMC is also dealing with TWD's cast contract negotiations. While Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus are already locked in for season 9, folks behind the show are still courting Cohan to reprise her role as Maggie. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the two camps have reached an agreement.
Last month, Deadline reported that Cohan is seeking equal salary with the aforementioned Walking Dead stalwarts, who currently make significantly more than she does. AMC offered her a "modest salary increase in exchange for a long-term contract," but the offer was rejected. Now Cohan finds public support from one of her other male TWD co-stars, Payton, who plays Kingdom leader, Ezekiel.
In his latest Instagram post, Payton urged AMC to "pay" Cohan, seemingly confirming that the actress continues to be in active discussion for a pay increase that would be on par with Lincoln and Reedus. Fans quickly chimed in on the conversation, also showing support for the actress. Up until now, other The Walking Dead stars have been tight-lipped about the matter, and one wonders if this will open the door for more people to speak up either for themselves or for Cohan on salary issues. Check out Payton's post below:
While Cohan did join the show later than Reedus and Lincoln, she quickly become one of the show's fan favorites, thanks in part to Maggie's romantic relationship with fellow fan favorite Glenn (Steven Yeun). Since Glenn's death, Maggie has become an even more central character, maturing into a badass warrior in her own right. Additionally, the way The Walking Dead has built her up to be the Hilltop's leader suggests that she's likely to play an even bigger role going forward. Considering that TWD continues to suffer a decline in viewership numbers, while loyalists continue to be upset by the sudden death of Carl (Chandler Riggs), it's definitely not the best time to lose another pivotal character due to a pay dispute.
Cohan seems to realize that leaving The Walking Dead at this point is likely to be more AMC's loss than hers, having already signed on to star in a new ABC pilot titled Whiskey Cavalier. Considering how quickly she was able to land a new job, Cohan appears to very much be in a position where she can confidently tell AMC thanks but no thanks to any contract offer they make that doesn't meet her expectations. Sonequa Martin-Green's (Sasha) decision to leave TWD and star in Star Trek: Discovery certainly hasn't hurt her career any. Considering that Cohan was reportedly courted to lead several TV pilots, she also likely wouldn't have any trouble landing on her feet should Whiskey Cavalier not get picked up to series.
With this current discussion of The Walking Dead's gender pay gap issues taking place, one wonders what Danai Gurira's (Michonne) opinion is on the matter, especially after her recent well-received turn in Marvel blockbuster Black Panther. Being one of the more politically and socially active cast members on the show, it would be interesting to learn not only what she thinks of the situation, but also how she is paid compared to both her male and female co-stars.
We've reached out to AMC for comment.
The Walking Dead season 8 airs Sundays on AMC.