Keeley Hawes demanded that she was paid the same amount for her leading role in forthcoming BBC conspiracy thriller Bodyguard as her male co-star Richard Madden.
But she added that even a few years ago, she’d fear ‘losing the job’ over insisting on equal pay.
“Certainly, five years ago, I wouldn’t have felt like I was in a position to say, ‘I want the same as my male counterpart’,” she told the Daily Mirror.
“Because I would have been worried about losing the job. And then I would think, ‘I want to work and I want to pay my mortgage’.
“But now, I do think businesses and corporations that we work for seem to be taking it very seriously.”
She continued: “If it’s something like Bodyguard and there are two of us.
“And you’re discussing your contract, just say ‘We want parity’. And more often than not, the actor will also say, ‘Yes, we’re doing the same amount of work. The same process, pay us the same’.
“And personally, that’s how I go about it now and I feel empowered to do that because of brilliant people that spoke up from the beginning and people who have made a stand.
“It allows everybody to be in a better position. We are getting there slowly but surely.
“It’s very exciting, there is still work to be done but it is a very good time with lots of females in lead roles.”
Hawes plays an ambitious Home Secretary who has to confront a terrorist attack, with Game of Thrones star Madden playing her personal protection officer.
Penned by Jed Mercurio, who wrote Line of Duty, the first episode airs on Sunday on BBC1.