Taraji P. Henson is giving even more insight into her struggles in the entertainment industry.

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In a new interview with the New York Times, the actress once again addressed the pay disparity in Hollywood, saying she hasn’t gotten a raise since 2018.

Despite feeling like she and her co-stars all deserve more money, a bigger check isn’t the only thing Henson is fighting for.

She also mentioned all of the other amenities she had to fight to get on the set of The Color Purple after not having them on other jobs.

“I didn’t tell them [co-stars Fantasia and Danielle Brooks], but a lot of the stuff on that set, they got because I fought,” Taraji began.

“They gave us rental cars, and I was like, ‘I can’t drive myself to set in Atlanta.’ This is insurance liability, it’s dangerous. Now they robbing people,” she explained. “What do I look like, taking myself to work by myself in a rental car? So I was like, ‘Can I get a driver or security to take me?’ I’m not asking for the moon. They’re like, ‘Well, if we do it for you, we got to do it for everybody.’ Well, do it for everybody!”

The actress went on to allege that the trailers while working on Empire were infested with critters noting that things like that are taxing on people’s mental health.

“It’s stuff like that, stuff I shouldn’t have to fight for. I was on the set of Empire fighting for trailers that wasn’t infested with bugs,” Taraji said to writer Kyle Buchanan.

“It wears on your soul because you fight so hard to establish a name for yourself and be respected in this town to no avail,” she continued.

“With Black films, they just don’t want to take us overseas and I don’t understand that. Black translates all over the world, so why wouldn’t the movies? I have a following in China of all places. Y’all not going to capitalize on that? Don’t everybody want to make money here? I’m not the person that pulls the race card every time, but what else is it, then? Tell me. I’d rather it not be race, please give me something else.”

Henson also opened up about the fact that she had to audition for her role in The Color Purple, even after having such an established, award-winning career.

“Oftentimes in the industry, you can be the director’s choice but not the studio’s, so I had to audition,” she explained to the New York Times. “I had to check my ego because I was like, ‘Why am I auditioning?’ I mean, I get the singing, because there’s nothing out there that shows me singing like that. But I had to sing, dance, and they read me. I was like, ‘Ouch.’”

When asked about the last time she had to audition, Taraji couldn’t even remember.

“I don’t even know, because at this point I’m a Golden Globe winner and Academy Award-nominated. So I went in there with a chip on my shoulder because I was like, ‘You will never second-guess me again,’” she explained. “I found a dress that was very Shug, I had did my hair up and put a flower in it, I wore a faux-fur shawl, and I went in and literally kicked the door down. He was like, ‘Do you need to rehearse?’ I was like, “’No, let’s go.’”

Henson continued,

“Blitz tells it like, ‘Within 20 minutes, she sealed the deal.’ But I’m really getting tired of fighting, I’m tired of proving myself. It seems like every time I break a glass ceiling, when it’s time to renegotiate for another job, I’m right back like I did nothing. I almost had to walk away from Color Purple.”

“I haven’t had a raise since [the 2018 film] Proud Mary, and I still didn’t get a raise,” she revealed. “They don’t care, they’re always looking for a deal and trying to pay you the least amount. I remember on Empire, I was fighting over trailers [that stars use as their home base while shooting].

Taraji went on to talk about how ridiculous is was that she had to fight for a clean trailer while working on Empire.

“I’m arguing over trailers, and then I go down the street to Chicago P.D. and they got the nice [ones]….You understand what I mean by ‘I’m tired of fighting?'”

While some fans have criticized producer Oprah Winfrey following Henson’s previous complaints about fighting for equal pay in The Color Purple, Taraji clarified that Winfrey was on her side. In her interview, she noted that Oprah was in her corner, but these are battles she’s had to wage alone too often.

“It hurts my feelings when it’s not reciprocated, but I know this world is cold and nobody really cares, and you got to go out and fight for what you want,” she said. “What else do I need to do to prove my worth? Now that I’m singing and dancing for you, and I climbed up on the table 88 times with my knobby knees and had to ice my knees in between takes, what else do I need to do?”


You can read Taraji P. Henson’s full interview with the New York Times here.


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