An emotional Taraji P. Henson brought to tears discussing her pay in Hollywood

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

Taraji P. Henson has emotionally opened up about the significant pay inequality she and other Black women face in Hollywood.

The 53-year-old Empire star broke down in tears while discussing the unequal pay she receives during a recent radio interview with Gayle King for SiriusXM.

The interviewer started by mentioning a previous comment Henson made about leaving her acting career because it’s not financially sustainable, and asked: "Are you thinking about it?"

The Colour Purple star, who was joined by fellow guests Danielle Brooks and Blitz Bazawule, took a lengthy pause before saying: "I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost," adding: "I’m tired of hearing my sisters saying the same thing over and over. I hear people go, 'You work a lot.' I have to. The math ain’t mathing."

Watch Henson speak about pay inequality below:

The Karate Kid actress went on to point out that a successful Hollywood career requires having a team of people supporting her. "Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone. The fact that we’re up here, there’s a whole entire team behind us. They have to get paid," she said.

Henson proceeded to break things down, explaining how her paycheck for a project begins to decrease after taxes are taken out and all of the members of her team get their salaries.

"Know that off the top, Uncle Sam is getting 50%. Your team is getting 30% of whatever you gross. Now do the math," she noted.

wp-image-1263241295 size-full
Taraji P. Henson spoke about the pay gap during a radio interview with Gayle King for SiriusXM. Credit: Cindy Ord / Getty

The Oscar nominee - who previously spoke about pay discrepancy in her 2016 memoir, Around The Way Girl - said the situation has become increasingly frustrating for her, making her question her future in the acting industry.

"I’m only human and 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," she explained, wiping tears from her face. "It wears on you, you know, 'cause what does that mean? What does that tell me?"

She then turned to the Orange Is The New Black actress who appears alongside her in the forthcoming musical adaption, and said while crying: "And if I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the f*** am I doing?"

Henson lamented that when "it's time for us to go to bat" amid a contract or deal negotiation, "they don't have any money," adding: "They play in your face. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear and just keep going. Enough is enough."

She then said that she has turned to different business ventures, including her TPH haircare line and mental wellness brand, to supplement her acting income.

"I have other things because this industry if you let it, it’ll steal your soul. But I refuse to let that happen," she concluded.

wp-image-1263241292 size-full
Taraji P. Henson stars in The Color Purple. Credit: Kayla Oaddams / Getty

In 2016, the WGA’s Hollywood Writers Report documented that Black women in the industry get paid significantly less than white women, and the gap is even wider when compared to white men, per News.com.au.

Henson is not the only Black actress to have experienced this, as Gabrielle Union took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to share her thoughts after seeing the interview.

"Not a damn lie told. Not. A. Damn. Lie. We go TO BAT for the next generation and hell even our own generation and above. We don’t hesitate to be the change that we all need to see AND it takes a toll on your mind, health, soul, and career if we’re keepin' it 100," she penned.

The Hidden Figures star's words also resonated with actress Robin Thede, who shared a post on Instagram about the disparity of wages.

"Y’all expect celebrities to give you all the glam and talent and smile when they’re being horribly undervalued," she penned. "And it’s not as simple as 'start a business' (they HAVE! Taraji has SEVERAL!) or 'get better reps' (the problem is systemic and studios won’t pay us what they pay non Black actors, regardless of reps!).

"Please just try to hear what @tarajiphenson is saying. Her tears are real and deep and she is the BEST of us! Imagine what it’s like for the rest," she added.

Featured image credit: Cindy Ord / Getty

An emotional Taraji P. Henson brought to tears discussing her pay in Hollywood

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

Taraji P. Henson has emotionally opened up about the significant pay inequality she and other Black women face in Hollywood.

The 53-year-old Empire star broke down in tears while discussing the unequal pay she receives during a recent radio interview with Gayle King for SiriusXM.

The interviewer started by mentioning a previous comment Henson made about leaving her acting career because it’s not financially sustainable, and asked: "Are you thinking about it?"

The Colour Purple star, who was joined by fellow guests Danielle Brooks and Blitz Bazawule, took a lengthy pause before saying: "I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost," adding: "I’m tired of hearing my sisters saying the same thing over and over. I hear people go, 'You work a lot.' I have to. The math ain’t mathing."

Watch Henson speak about pay inequality below:

The Karate Kid actress went on to point out that a successful Hollywood career requires having a team of people supporting her. "Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone. The fact that we’re up here, there’s a whole entire team behind us. They have to get paid," she said.

Henson proceeded to break things down, explaining how her paycheck for a project begins to decrease after taxes are taken out and all of the members of her team get their salaries.

"Know that off the top, Uncle Sam is getting 50%. Your team is getting 30% of whatever you gross. Now do the math," she noted.

wp-image-1263241295 size-full
Taraji P. Henson spoke about the pay gap during a radio interview with Gayle King for SiriusXM. Credit: Cindy Ord / Getty

The Oscar nominee - who previously spoke about pay discrepancy in her 2016 memoir, Around The Way Girl - said the situation has become increasingly frustrating for her, making her question her future in the acting industry.

"I’m only human and 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," she explained, wiping tears from her face. "It wears on you, you know, 'cause what does that mean? What does that tell me?"

She then turned to the Orange Is The New Black actress who appears alongside her in the forthcoming musical adaption, and said while crying: "And if I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the f*** am I doing?"

Henson lamented that when "it's time for us to go to bat" amid a contract or deal negotiation, "they don't have any money," adding: "They play in your face. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear and just keep going. Enough is enough."

She then said that she has turned to different business ventures, including her TPH haircare line and mental wellness brand, to supplement her acting income.

"I have other things because this industry if you let it, it’ll steal your soul. But I refuse to let that happen," she concluded.

wp-image-1263241292 size-full
Taraji P. Henson stars in The Color Purple. Credit: Kayla Oaddams / Getty

In 2016, the WGA’s Hollywood Writers Report documented that Black women in the industry get paid significantly less than white women, and the gap is even wider when compared to white men, per News.com.au.

Henson is not the only Black actress to have experienced this, as Gabrielle Union took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to share her thoughts after seeing the interview.

"Not a damn lie told. Not. A. Damn. Lie. We go TO BAT for the next generation and hell even our own generation and above. We don’t hesitate to be the change that we all need to see AND it takes a toll on your mind, health, soul, and career if we’re keepin' it 100," she penned.

The Hidden Figures star's words also resonated with actress Robin Thede, who shared a post on Instagram about the disparity of wages.

"Y’all expect celebrities to give you all the glam and talent and smile when they’re being horribly undervalued," she penned. "And it’s not as simple as 'start a business' (they HAVE! Taraji has SEVERAL!) or 'get better reps' (the problem is systemic and studios won’t pay us what they pay non Black actors, regardless of reps!).

"Please just try to hear what @tarajiphenson is saying. Her tears are real and deep and she is the BEST of us! Imagine what it’s like for the rest," she added.

Featured image credit: Cindy Ord / Getty