Taraji P. Henson has admitted that the gap in equity and pay in the entertainment industry has her questioning the future of her acting career.

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In a new interview with Gayle King for Sirius XM, Henson gets instantly emotional when asked about the possibility of quitting her acting career.

“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost,” she said with tears in her eyes.

“I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over…you get tired,” Taraji continued. “I hear people go, ‘you work a lot,’ I have to. The math ain’t mathin.”

She went on to explain that while the numbers might look good, on paper, all of the bills she has to pay make that a fraction of what the world sees on an actor’s contract.

“And when you start working a lot, you know, you have a team, big bills come with what we do, we don’t do this alone…it’s a whole entire team behind us. They have to get paid,” Taraji said. “So when you hear someone say, ‘oh, such and such made $10 million.’ No, that’s not…that didn’t make it to their account.”

She later broke down when her The Color Purple co-star Danielle Brooks chimed in the conversation.

“I’m tired, it wears on you, ‘Cause what is it telling me?'” asked Taraji.

“What is it telling me, yeah, and what is it telling me?” asked Danielle.

“And if I can’t fight for them coming up behind me, then what the f**k am I doing?! I’m sorry.”


Tarajis’ candid moment has garnered reactions from fellow Black actresses including Robin Thede and Gabrielle Union.

This is far from the first time Henson has voiced her disapproval of the pay gap for Black women in Hollywood.

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In her 2016 memoir Around The Way Girl, Taraji claims she was paid “less than 2%” of her co-star Brad Pitt’s salary in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

In the movie, Henson plays the adoptive mother of Pitt’s character, a role that won her a supporting actress nomination at the Oscars. Even so, she was forced to pay her own accommodation costs for the shoot, earning a check that was far less than what Pitt and Cate Blanchett received for the same film.

“Both Brad and Cate got millions. Me? With bated breath, I sat by the phone for hours, waiting for Vince [her manager] to call and tell me the number that I thought would make me feel good: somewhere in the mid six figures – no doubt a mere percentage of what Brad was bringing home to Angelina and their beautiful babies, but something worthy of a solid up-and-coming actress with a decent amount of critical acclaim for her work,” she wrote in her memoir according to The Guardian. 

“Alas, that request was dead on arrival. ‘I’m sorry, Taraji,’ Vince said quietly when we finally connected. ‘They came in at the lowest of six figures. I convinced them to add in a little more, but that’s as high as they’d go.’ There was one other thing: I’d have to agree to pay my own location fees while filming in New Orleans, meaning three months of hotel expenses would be coming directly out of my pocket. Insult, meet injury.”

Henson went on to explain that she took the role, regardless, because there were so few available for Black women.

“The math really is pretty simple: there are way more talented black actresses than there are intelligent, meaningful roles for them, and we’re consistently charged with diving for the crumbs of the scraps, lest we starve,” Taraji explained.

Later, in 2020, Taraji appeared on T.I.’s Expeditiously podcast and emphasized a similar statement that she told Gayle King in the present day; she works so hard, because she “has to.”

“It’s just hard for Black women, period. I don’t care what business you’re in, it’s just really hard,” said Henson. “I work a lot, right? Why? You wanna know why? I have to. I’m not getting paid all that money.”

“Other actresses who are not Black, they make more money, they have the privilege of doing one or two projects a year.”

What do YOU think about Taraji P. Henson’s candid comments about the equity and pay gap for Black actresses?


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