Taraji P. Henson Opens Up About Pay Inequity, Contemplates Leaving Acting Career
In a recent interview with Gayle King on SiriusXM, Taraji P. Henson, renowned for her roles in “Empire” and “Hidden Figures,” emotionally discussed the challenges she faces as a Black woman in Hollywood. The emotional moment went viral as Henson, alongside “Color Purple” co-star Danielle Brooks and director Blitz Bazawule, addressed the pay disparities in the industry.
Responding to rumors of considering quitting acting due to unequal compensation, the Academy Award nominee tearfully revealed, “I’m tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, being paid a fraction of the cost.” Henson emphasized the collective effort involved in the entertainment industry and expressed frustration at consistently facing pay disparities, despite breaking glass ceilings throughout her career.
Despite her successful career, including a Golden Globe for her role as Cookie Lyon in “Empire” and an Oscar nomination for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Henson shared that negotiations for contracts still position her as a novice. She explained, “It seems every time I do something and I 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 just tired. It wears on you, you know?”
Henson has previously spoken out about her experiences with pay disparity, recounting instances where she received significantly less than requested, including $150,000 for her role in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
The acclaimed actor’s revelations resonated with fellow industry professionals, with Gabrielle Union expressing support on social media. Henson’s latest project, “The Color Purple,” a musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, is set to hit U.S. theaters next week. The film has garnered early acclaim, described as an “exhilarating, larger-than-life journey” and “a joy to watch.”
In the midst of her successful career, Henson’s candid discussion sheds light on the ongoing challenges Black women face in the entertainment industry, sparking a broader conversation about pay equity and representation.