Renowned American actress Taraji P. Henson has voiced her dissatisfaction with not receiving equitable compensation, despite her unwavering commitment to her career and numerous roles in Hollywood films.
In an open discussion about this, Henson spoke with Gayle King on SiriusXM to promote her most recent movie, “The Color Purple.”
When King asked Henson about rumors that she was thinking of giving up acting, she said that she had reached a breaking point in Hollywood because of persistent underpayment.
Henson said: “I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost. I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired. I hear people go, ‘You work a lot.’ Well, I have to.
“The math ain’t math-ing. When you start working a lot, you have a team. Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone. It’s a whole team behind us. They have to get paid.
“When you hear someone go, ‘Such and such made $10 million,’ that didn’t make it to their account. Off the top, Uncle Sam is getting 50%. Now have $5 million.
“Your team is getting 30% of what you gross, not after what Uncle Sam took. Now, do the math. I’m only human. Every time I do something and break another glass ceiling, when it’s time to renegotiate, I’m at the bottom again, like I never did what I just did, and I’m tired. I’m tired.
“It wears on you. What does that mean? What is that telling me? If I can’t fight for them coming up behind me, then what the fuck am I doing?”
She went on to provide more details, highlighting that despite her numerous achievements, she often hears explanations such as the notion that “Black actors and stories don’t translate overseas,” among other justifications, as factors contributing to her lack of substantial compensation.
Taraji Henson said: “I’m tired of hearing that my entire career. Twenty-plus years in the game, and I hear the same thing, and I see what you do for another production, but when it’s time to go to bat for us, they don’t have enough money. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear it. Enough is enough! That’s why I have other [brands] because this industry, if you let it, it will steal your soul. I refuse to let that happen.”
After exploring a wide range of film genres, Taraji Henson has won praise for her ability to play both humorous and tragic roles. Her strong performance in movies like “Hustle & Flow” and “Baby Boy” helped her gain early notoriety and earned her nominations for major honors like the Academy Award and SAG Award.