Taraji P. Henson breaks down in tears over her alleged unequal pay in Hollywood

Taraji P. Henson is getting candid – and emotional – about the state of her finances as a black actress.

The Empire star, who previously admitted she is considering leaving the industry because it’s not financially sustainable, broke down in tears while discussing the unequal pay she receives during a radio interview with Gayle King Tuesday.

She immediately became emotional when King, 68, asked about the possibility of retiring from acting, taking a long pause before saying, “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 saying the same thing over and over,” she continued.

“I hear people go, ‘You work a lot.’ I have to. The math ain’t mathing.”

Henson, 53, went on to explain that after she gets paid, her team, including her agent and publicist, gets a 30 per cent cut.

“Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone,” she noted.

“The fact that we’re up here, there’s a whole entire team behind us. They have to get paid.”

Henson estimated that she takes about 20 per cent of her paycheck to the bank after paying taxes and her employees.

“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,” she further vented. “And I’m just tired.”

With tears rolling down her cheeks, the Color Purple star added, “and if I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the f**k am I doing?”

She also accused studios of “playing in [her] face” when it comes time for contract negotiations.

She lamented that they will set a huge budget for some projects, but they claim they have no money left once it’s her turn to sign a deal.

“And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear and just keep going,” she said.

“Enough is enough.”

In 2016, the WGA’s Hollywood Writers Report confirmed that black women in the entertainment industry get paid significantly less than white females, and the gap is even wider when compared to white men.

Henson is not the only black star to have experienced this, as actress Gabrielle Union took to X to support her following her frank comments.

“Not a damn lie told. Not. A. Damn. Lie,” she wrote Wednesday.

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

“We don’t hesitate to be the change that we all need to see AND it takes a toll on your mind, health, soul, and career if we’re keepn it️ [100 per cent emoji] u.”

“The worst part is fighting against people who get paid a salary and don’t have to worry about their next gig, nor do they have the other expenses mentioned to worry about,” singer Kalen Allen wrote under Union’s message in agreement.

“Meanwhile, it’s our livelihood that is dependent on a yes or no from them.”

Henson spoke about the pay inequality she and her fellow black actors face this week as well during an interview for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.

“I’m really getting tired of black women having the same story,” she stated. “It’s breaking my heart.”

“Like, 20 plus [years] in the game … it’s like every time you achieve something really incredible, it’s almost like the industry looks at it like a fluke.”

“So you fall back to the bottom and you gotta negotiate and fight tooth and nail to get what you made the last time.”

She even revealed she almost walked away from the Color Purple because she wasn’t offered enough money and claimed she hasn’t gotten a raise since 2018.

In 2019, Henson revealed to Variety that she settled on a $US150,000 paycheck for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button after initially asking for $US500,000.

That, however, was $US50,000 more than their original offer.

“Still a fight,” she noted. “I don’t get paid if I don’t fight.”

This story originally appeared on Page Six and is republished here with permission

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