Taraji P. Henson’s Candid Revelation Sparks Industry Support for Equal Pay

Taraji P. Henson’s Candid Revelation Sparks Industry Support for Equal Pay
Written by Stacy M. Brown

The 53-year-old star, celebrated for her roles in “Empire” and “The Color Purple,” opened up about the substantial pay gap that Black women face in the entertainment industry.

In a recent SiriusXM interview with Gayle King, iconic actress Taraji P. Henson bravely addressed the pervasive issue of pay inequality in Hollywood, triggering an outpouring of solidarity from her peers. The 53-year-old star, celebrated for her roles in “Empire” and “The Color Purple,” opened up about the substantial pay gap that Black women face in the entertainment 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,” Henson explained in an emotional Sirius XM interview. “It wears on you.”

“When it’s time for us to go to bat, they don’t have any money,” she added of her contract negotiations. “They play in your face. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear and just keep going.”

Support for Henson flooded social media, with Gabrielle Union, 51, taking to X (formerly Twitter) to affirm, “Not a damn lie told. Not. A. Damn. Lie.” Union emphasized the collective commitment of industry veterans to usher in the change necessary for future generations, acknowledging the toll it takes on one’s mental health, soul, and career.

Keke Palmer, known for her role in “Nope,” joined the conversation on Instagram, delving into the intricacies of Hollywood paychecks. Palmer drew parallels between the entertainment industry and other businesses, shedding light on the collaborative efforts behind every successful actor. She discussed the financial complexities of managing a team, including agents, publicists, and assistants, echoing the sentiment that “more money means more problems,” a reality in any industry.

Palmer further touched upon the commonality of juggling multiple jobs in the entertainment sector, often out of necessity rather than choice. She highlighted the financial challenges faced by those pursuing success in America, emphasizing the importance of entrepreneurship while acknowledging its inherent expenses.

Henson’s revelations struck a chord as she detailed the financial strain actors endure, especially when negotiating contracts and managing the substantial expenses of their support teams.

“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost,” Henson replied. “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.”

She pointed out that behind every successful actor is a team of people supporting them. “Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone,” she said. “The fact that we’re up here, there’s a whole entire team behind us. They have to get paid.”

The actress conveyed frustration at consistently finding herself negotiating as though she had not already broken barriers in her career. Henson candidly shared the industry’s tendency to lack financial support when it comes time for equitable compensation negotiations.

Despite these challenges, Henson emphasized the importance of diversifying income streams. Beyond acting, she has launched side projects, such as her TPH haircare line, to fortify her financial standing and safeguard her well-being in an industry that, as she put it, “if you let it, it’ll steal your soul.” 

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