Taraji P. Henson Says She May Quit Acting Due To The Pay Gap — ‘I Break Another Glass Ceiling, When It’s Time To Renegotiate I’m At The Bottom’

Taraji P. Henson Says She May Quit Acting Due To The Pay Gap — ‘I Break Another Glass Ceiling, When It’s Time To Renegotiate I’m At The Bottom’

Hailing from Washington, D.C., the veteran actress set out to to become one of Hollywood’s biggest talents — and accomplished. However, despite landing critically acclaimed roles such as Queenie in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and Cookie in “Empire,” to name a few, she’s faced constant hurdles in her career path.

As previously shared by AFROTECH, Henson recounted in a Variety interview in 2019 that she constantly felt like she had to prove herself in the industry.

“After Empire, see ’cause it was proving my worth,” Henson said. “I think the industry knew I was talented. They got that part, but it’s about money. It’s about — are you bankable? Can you open a film? Will I get what I put in this film back, you know? So, I had to continuously prove that. And it’s like I’ve just been trying to prove it and prove it. That’s why I work so hard.”

Now, in 2023, Henson has let the public in on her reaching a breaking point. During an interview with Gayle King on Sirius XM, Henson was visibly emotional when asked about her recent sentiment of debating  quitting from acting.

“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the costs,” Henson expressed in the interview. “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.’ I have to. The math ain’t mathin’.

Henson went on to break down the numbers including Uncle Sam taking half of what you earn along with having to pay your team who’s behind you.

“So when you hear someone say, ‘Oh, such and such made $10 million.’ No, that didn’t make it to their account,” she clarified. “Know that off the top, Uncle Sam is getting 50%. So do the math, now we have $5 million. Your team is getting 30% off of what you grossed, not after what Uncle Sam took.”

She added, “I’m only human and it seems that every time I do something and I break another glass ceiling, when it’s time to renegotiate I’m at the bottom like I never did what I just did and I’m just tired…And if I can’t fight for [the next generation of Black women actresses] coming up behind me, then what the f—k am I doing?” 

Henson has previously been transparent about her renegotiations in Hollywood. For her aforementioned Oscar-nominated role in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” she fought to earn $150,000 after being offered $75,000, as AFROTECH previously reported. In addition, she initially requested $500,000.

Henson also shared with King that being in the same tiring cycle in the industry led her to focus more on her entrepreneurial endeavors including her hair care and body care company, TPH, and The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF), her mental health foundation named after her late father.

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