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Taraji P. Henson Gets Emotional About Hollywood Pay Inequality | Watch

*Several of Taraji P. Henson’s celebrity pals turned to social media to praise the actress for getting candid about Hollywood pay inequality. 

“I’ve been getting paid and I’ve been fighting tooth and nail every project to get that same freaking [fee] quote,” Henson told THR’s co-editor-in-chief Nekesa Mumbi Moody.

The actress stars in the hotly anticipated “The Color Purple” movie musical, opening on Christmas day. As THR reports, Henson earned an Oscar nod for her performance in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and several Emmy nominations for playing “Cookie” in the hit series “Empire.” Despite the acclaim and accolades over her 20-year career, Henson is “fighting tooth and nail every project to get that same freaking [fee] quote,” she said. 

“And it’s a slap in the face when people go, ‘Oh girl, you work all the time. You always working.’ Well, goddammit, I have to. It’s not because I wish I could do two movies a year and that’s that. I have to work because the math ain’t mathing,” she added. “And I have bills,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. 

Taraji P. Henson and Gabrielle Union Stun at ABFF
Taraji P. Henson and Gabrielle Union attend the premiere of “The Perfect Find” presented by Netflix during the American Black Film Festival at New World Center on June 16, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Ivan Apfel/Getty Images)

“Listen, I’ve been doing this for two decades and sometimes I get tired of fighting because I know what I do is bigger than me. I know that the legacy I leave will affect somebody coming up behind me,” Henson continued. 

“My prayer is that I don’t want these Black girls to have the same fights that me and Viola [Davis], Octavia [Spencer], we out here thugging it out,” she added. “Otherwise, why am I doing this? For my own vanity? There’s no blessing in that. I’ve tried twice to walk away [from the business]. But I can’t, because if I do, how does that help the ones coming up behind me?”

Henson also unpacked the pay gap for Black women during a conversation on Gayle King‘s Sirius XM radio show. She became emotional when King asked if she plans to quit acting.

“I’m just tired of working so hard,” said Henson, adding, “being gracious about what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost. I’m tried of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired.”

Henson’s remarks prompted several Black actresses to chime in, with Gabrielle Union writing on X (formally Twitter), “Not a damn lie told. Not. A. Damn. Lie,” she posted about Henson’s interview with King, People reports.

“We go TO BAT for the next generation and hell even our own generation and above,” Union continued. 

 

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A post shared by BIG BOSS 🔑🔑 (@keke)

KeKe Palmer also addressed Henson’s comments on Instagram (read her full post above).

“The entertainment industry is just like any other industry. We run businesses to keep our brands afloat, us being the brand/business,” Palmer wrote. “And it’s that team of company members that decrease any assumed large lump sum. This includes monthly expenses just like everyone else. In the words of Biggie, ‘more money more problems.'”

The “Nope” star added, “To make money you must spend money so what seems like a lot is taken by a lot. There is still privilege in this depending what vantage point you are seeing from, but in our industry amongst one another this is neutralized.”

Meanwhile, several social media users have posted interviews of comedian Mo’Nique discussing this issue years ago. Many point out that Black actresses seemingly didn’t publicly support her at the time. Now, inquiring minds want to know if the conversation would be different today if the sisterhood had come together back then to collectively fight for what they’re worth. 

READ MORE: Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Erika Alexander Talk Black Sisterhood in Hollywood

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