Taraji P. Henson breaks down over pay disparity in Hollywood

Actress Taraji P. Henson recently got emotional when talking about the pay disparity she has faced during her time in Hollywood.

While speaking on Sirius XM to promote her new film, The Color Purple, Henson was asked by host Gayle King if the rumours of her considering quitting acting were true. Immediately, Henson got teary-eyed and said: “I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do and getting paid a fraction of the cost.”

“I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired. I hear people go, ‘You work a lot.’ Well, I have to. The math ain’t math-ing. When you start working a lot, you have a team. Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone. It’s a whole team behind us. They have to get paid.”


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“When you hear someone go, ‘Such and such made $10million,’ that didn’t make it to their account,” Henson explained. “Off the top, Uncle Sam is getting per cent. Now have $5million. Your team is getting 30 per cent of what you gross, not after what Uncle Sam took. Now do the math. I’m only human.”

She carried on: “Every time I do something and 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 tired. I’m tired. It wears on you. What does that mean? What is that telling me?”

At this point, Taraji P. Henson began sobbing, pointing to her younger co-star Danielle Brooks: “If I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the fuck am I doing?”

“Twenty-plus years in the game and I hear the same thing and I see what you do for another production but when it’s time to go to bat for us they don’t have enough money. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear it. Enough is enough! That’s why I have other [brands] because this industry, if you let it, it will steal your soul. I refuse to let that happen.”

This isn’t the first time that Taraji P. Henson has brought up the issue of pay disparity. In 2021, Henson shared that she was “gutted” when she took home just $40,000 for her role in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. That was far less than what she had asked for, which she said “at that time of my career, was fair to the ticket sales that I would contribute to this big film”.


In 2019, she revealed to Variety that she had asked for half a million dollars for her role in the film, and that she was only offered $100,000. “I was just asking for half a million – that’s all. That’s it. When I was doing ‘Benjamin Button,’ I wasn’t worth a million yet. My audience was still getting to know me. We thought we were asking for what was fair for me, at the time,” she said to Variety.