Being a black woman in Hollywood is tough, and that’s in simple terms.
The wage gap between white talent and black has been contention for ages and although in recent day, there has been improvement in that department, a lot still needs be done.
Empire star Taraji has spent more than two decades in the film industry and has no doubt established herself as a force in the highly competitive world but even with that, the actress still battles, having to fight for her well deserved right – equal pay, hence she’s been vocal about the racist standards of Hollywood.
On a recent Ladies First, Laura Brown podcast, Taraji P. Henson spoke up about pay equity and being a Black woman in Hollywood.
Speaking about the unfair salary, Henson disclosed she earned $40k after securing a role in 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button after paying her staff, while her white costars made millions from the box office hit which grossed over $335M. Meanwhile, her costars, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were paid millions.
“I felt like what I was asking, at that time of my career, was fair to the ticket sales that I would contribute to this big film. [The studio] wouldn’t do it… and then I was gutted.”
Henson did earn a 2009 Oscar nomination for her role as Queenie but says she had to fight against stereotypes in order to eventually receive the kind of money she deserved.
“I understand why we took that on, Black women being the bottom of the totem pole, never being seen. I understand, but it’s when others go, ‘Yes, strong Black woman!’ and then it dismisses us … Then if my child or somebody I know is gunned down in the streets, I’m supposed to be strong through that? I’m not allowed to be angry?” said Henson. “ I’m not allowed to be pissed off? I can’t say [anything back] because you’ve taken everything from me. I’m not allowed to feel that? I’m just supposed to be strong?”
Although her role fetched her a nod for an Oscar but higher pay still didn’t come into the equation, thankfully, Tyler Perry, rewrote the script and, gave her the first million payday of her career after Henson starred in Perry’s 2009 film adaption of his popular stage play I Can Do Bad All By Myself.