Taraji P. Henson has recently opened up about her experience in the industry as a Black female actress. She reflected on her journey through Hollywood and broke out in tears when recounting the treatment she had received.
Gayle King sat down with Henson and her The Color Purple cast member, Danielle Brooks for a SiriusXM interview. When asked if she had ever thought about quitting acting, Henson shared that she has reached her limit due to being underpaid.
“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost,” Henson began. “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.”
She continued to explain that although people hear reports of how much an actor got paid for their work, that money is then divided amongst team members as well as government taxes.
“I’m only human," she continued. "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?"
Brooks chimed in, "And what is that telling me?"
Emotional, Henson exclaimed, "If I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the f**k am I doing?”
She recalled being told that Black actors and stories “don’t translate overseas.”
“I’m tired of hearing that my entire career,” she said. “20 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.”