Jennifer Lawrence is at a crossroads in her career.
Over the next six weeks, both the final entry in The Hunger Games series and Joy, her third consecutive collaboration with director David O. Russell, will be released in theaters. The former marks the end of the franchise that made her a household name; the latter will almost certainly bring Lawrence her fourth Academy Award nomination and quite possibly her second win in four years. And she just turned 25.
With all of this in mind, Lawrence sat down for an interview with fellow Kentuckian Diane Sawyer on Nightline Thursday night that dug a bit deeper than some of her always entertaining talk show interactions.
Things turned particularly serious when the issue of Hollywood’s gender pay gap came up. Of the many stories to come out of last year’s Sony hack was the revelation that Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid less than their male co-stars for their work in Russell’s American Hustle.
In an essay for Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s new Lenny Letter publication last month, Lawrence discussed how she has dealt with the issues of inequity in her career.
“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself,” Lawrence wrote. “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”
She echoed this inner conflict during the interview with Sawyer. “My question to myself was why am I not asking for it?” she wondered. “And I think I know I have always kind of carried a habit of submissiveness with the idea that it makes me more likeable.
“I felt like I had to say something because we need to talk about it,” she added.
Lawrence described the overwhelming impulse of society to “judge” women more harshly than men for standing up and speaking their minds as “something that is intrinsic” that she would “love to see change.”
“I would just hope that there’s no longer a separation or a difference of, oh, it’s a female-driven movie,” she said. “Or, it was a blockbuster, but it was led by a woman.”
Over Southern barbecue and trips to an archery range to show off her Katniss Everdeen-inspired skills—and teach the ABC News anchor how it’s done—Lawrence also told Sawyer about her newest creative partnership with Amy Schumer, with whom she is writing a screenplay. “I didn’t know Amy six months ago and she brings something to my life that’s so special,” she said.
“We both have a kind of protection over each other,” Lawrence added, emphasizing how much younger she is than the 34-year-old comedian. “I’ve been famous longer than she has so I feel a certain protectiveness in that sense and we both are incredibly blunt and opinionated.”
One thing for which Lawrence is decidedly not ready for is settling down into a long-term relationship. She told Sawyer she “definitely” wants to be a mother, but doesn’t see herself getting married. “I don’t feel like I need anything to complete me,” she said. “I love meeting people—men, women, whatever, I love people coming into your life and bringing something.”
With The Hunger Games finally coming to an end, Lawrence said she worried that she won’t know who she is without the film series that made her a star, along with her ex-boyfriend, X-Men co-star Nicholas Hoult, who she was in a relationship for five years that ended around the time shooting ended on the latest installment.
“Who am I without these movies?” Lawrence asked herself. “Who am I without this man?”
As she enters this new phase of her career, she’s about to find out.