Taraji P. Henson is speaking out about the wage disparity in Hollywood, expressing her dissatisfaction with getting paid a fraction of what white actors receive.
Henson’s Hollywood career spans more than twenty years, with roles in blockbuster films such as ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ ‘Hidden Figures,’ and ‘The Karate Kid.’ However, in a recent SiriusXM interview with Gayle King, the actress stated that she will continue to battle for equal pay in the film business because she is still not receiving equitable pay, despite having an equivalent or even more remarkable résumé than some of her white co-stars.
When asked about reports of her possible retirement from acting, the ‘Empire’ star responded emotionally. “I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, and getting paid a fraction of the cost,” she remarked, referring to the wage disparity between black performers and white actors. “I’m sick and tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over again.” “I get comments like, ‘You work a lot.’ I have no choice. The math isn’t working. What we do results in large bills. We are not doing this alone. There’s a big crew behind us; that’s why we’re up here. They must be compensated.”
Because of the seriousness of the situation in the film business, Henson has considered leaving her passion and hard-earned job. Despite appearing in award-winning films, she believes that her effort is undervalued because of her compensation. Henson then laid out the compensation breakdown, saying that one piece goes to the IRS and the other pays the salaries of her crew. Her response strongly implied that if she accepts less than her asking price, the mother-of-one will be left with very little.
After they’ve paid everyone, the pay collected from the position is far lower than what people would expect.
“When you hear someone say, ‘Such and such made $10 million,’ that didn’t make it to their account,” she said. “First and foremost, Uncle Sam receives 50%. We now have a total of $5 million. Your team receives 30% of what you earn, not after Uncle Sam takes his cut. Do the math now. I’m merely a human being. Every time I do something and smash another glass ceiling, when it comes time to renegotiate, I’m back at square one, as if I never did what I just did, and I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted. It gets to you. What does this imply? “What does that mean?”
Henson’s impassioned statement, reflecting her own experience with salary, highlights the profoundly ingrained wage issue in Hollywood’s system. Nonetheless, despite repeated requests for reform and assurances of progress, the problem remains essentially unaddressed. In 2008, Henson co-starred with Brad Pitt in the box office smash ‘The Curious Case of Benjmanin Button,’ for which she received multiple award nominations, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Despite the film’s popularity and her outstanding performance, Henson’s pay for the role was controversially low.
Henson admits in her biography “Around the Way Girl” that her salary for her performance was “the equivalent of sofa change,” which she contrasts with the remuneration of Pitt and Cate Blanchett. According to Vulture, she received barely 2% of what Pitt received for the movie. This disclosure triggered widespread discussion on pay inequity in Hollywood, highlighting the industry’s gender and racial income disparities.
According to Revolt, Taraji P. Henson requested $500,000 to play Queenie but received just $100,000. She had just over $40,000 left after paying her team and agency fees for a project she had spent months filming.”‘I’m sorry, Taraji,’ Vince [her manager] quietly said when we finally connected.” ‘They came in at the low end of the six-figure range. “I persuaded them to add a little more, but that was the limit,” she said in her book. “There was one more thing: I’d have to agree to pay my own location fees while filming in New Orleans, which meant I’d have to pay for three months of hotel expenses out of my own pocket.” “Injury meets insult.”