Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson is opening up about the struggles of being a Black actor.
The star became visibly emotional as she shared that she has considered quitting acting after regularly being underpaid.
In an interview with Gayle King on SiriusXM, and The Color Purple co-star Danielle Brooks and the film’s director, Blitz Bazawule, Henson addressed a report that she thought about ending her illustrious career as she struggled financially despite her fame.
“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, being paid a fraction of the cost,” Henson said, according to The Huffington Post. “I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired.”
The actor became visibly emotional as she detailed the financial expense of managing her career.
“I hear people go, ‘You work a lot.’ I have to. The math ain’t mathing,” she said. “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.”
According to Complex, Henson shared in another recent interview that she replaced her entire team after they failed to capitalize on the success of her role as Cookie Lyon on Empire.
In response to being asked what her best decision was as an actor, Henson replied, “Firing everybody after Cookie. Everybody had to fucking go. Where is my deal? Where is my commercial? Cookie was top of the fashion game. Where is my endorsement? What did you have set up for after this?”
Despite Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, Henson notes that she feels underpaid compared to her white counterparts.
“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,” she told King. “And I’m just tired. It wears on you, you know?”
This Christmas, Henson will star alongside Brooks, Fantasia Barrino and an all-star Black cast in the reimagining of the beloved film, The Color Purple. Henson plays the iconic Shug Avery in the Oprah Winfrey-backed release.
Henson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where she starred alongside Brad Pitt. She has previously said that despite asking for “half a million” in pay for the role, she was ultimately paid only $150,000. The film went on to earn $127.5 million domestically and $208.3 million in foreign markets, with a total gross of $335.8 million, according to IMDB.
“Listen, I’ve been doing this for two decades and sometimes I get tired of fighting because I know what I do is bigger than me. I know that the legacy I leave will affect somebody coming up behind me,” Henson recently told The Hollywood Reporter. She added that she is advocating for other Black actors. “My prayer is that I don’t want these Black girls to have the same fights that me and Viola [Davis], Octavia [Spencer], we out here thugging it out.”
Henson received support from Gabrielle Union who wrote on X (former Twitter) “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.”
Taraji P. Henson Cries While Discussing Pay Inequality For Black Actors was originally published on hiphopwired.com
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