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Taraji P. Henson Addresses Hollywood Pay Gap, Denies Oprah Feud Allegations

todayDecember 29, 2023 8178 82 5

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Things are heating up in Hollywood! Taraji P. Henson is throwing shade at the industry, saying they're shortchanging and overlooking black actresses. With over 20 years in , Henson has decided that enough is enough and is speaking out about her experiences in the industry.

Things got heated when Henson spilled the tea about not being happy with the paycheck she got for her part in Oprah‘s new movie, The Color Purple. In a candid interview, she disclosed that she hadn't seen a raise in her salary since Proud Mary, which was released six years ago. Henson even contemplated turning down the offer to star in The Color Purple, describing Oprah's initial offer as disrespectful.

But Henson's grievances go beyond financial matters. She accuses Oprah of attempting to silence her when she spoke out about being underpaid, echoing sentiments expressed by other black actresses in the industry. The actress went on to state that she had reached a point where she considered quitting acting altogether due to the constant battle with what she perceives as greedy Hollywood executives. (Watch the interview below)

Opens Up About the Struggles

In the interview, Taraji P. Henson had this heart-to-heart with Gayle King. Gayle dropped a question that hit deep, asking if the rumors about Taraji thinking of quitting acting were true. The vibe in the room got heavy as Taraji started opening up about the tough stuff she deals with in the entertainment world.

Struggling to hold back tears, Henson responded, “I'm just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost. I'm tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired. I hear people say, ‘You work a lot.' Yeah, well, the math ain't mathin'.”

She continued to shed light on the financial complexities in the industry, explaining the significant cuts taken by taxes and team expenses. “Uncle Sam is getting 50% off the top, okay? So do the math. Now we have 5 million. Your team is getting 30% or whatever off of what you grossed, not after what Uncle Sam took. Now do the math.”

The breaking point came as Henson expressed the frustration of repeatedly breaking glass ceilings in her career, only to find herself at the bottom when it came time to renegotiate. Tears streamed down her face as she revealed the emotional toll of the industry, saying, “I'm tired. I'm tired. I'm tired.”

With over two decades in the game, Henson voiced her exasperation at the recurring cycle of financial challenges, stating, “20 plus years in the game, and I hear the same thing. And I see what you do for another production. And when it's time for us to go to bed, you don't have any money. They play in your face, and I'm just supposed to smile and grin and bear it. Enough is enough.”

This is not the first time such allegations have surfaced in the industry. Viola Davis, one of the highest-paid black actresses, has previously spoken about the disparity in pay despite her achievements and accolades. The gender and racial pay gap in Hollywood is a recurring issue, with actresses like Mo'Nique and openly sharing their struggles.

Mo'Nique, in particular, has a history of speaking out against Oprah, claiming that she was mistreated and underpaid for her role in the movie Precious. She accused Oprah and Tyler Perry of blackballing her and orchestrating a campaign to paint her as difficult to work with.

Despite the drama, Taraji P. Henson clarified that there's no bad blood between her and Oprah Winfrey, despite her earlier remarks about Hollywood underpayment. Henson set the record straight on the rumored feud, explaining that she aimed to spotlight the wider problem of underpayment affecting Black women in the entertainment industry.

The actress has made it clear that her previous statements were not meant to create a rift with Oprah but were instead a call to address the systemic challenges Black women face when it comes to fair compensation in Hollywood. In light of these clarifications, it appears that any perceived tension between Henson and Oprah may have been a misunderstanding, and Henson is keen to emphasize the importance of addressing the broader issue at hand.

Henson's Instagram post reads: “It is so important for black women and ALL women of color to support each other. It is also imperative to have women of color in decision-making positions across ALL industries. Thank you for responding to my message with the compassion, understanding, and support that I've received. With that being said… Ms. OPRAH has been nothing less than a steady and solid beacon of light to ALL OF THE CAST of The Color Purple!!! She has provided ENCOURAGEMENT, GUIDANCE, and UNWAVERING SUPPORT to us all. She told me personally to reach out to her for ANYTHING I needed, and I did! It took ONE CALL… ONE CONVERSATION… and ONE DECISION MAKING BLACK WOMAN to make me feel heard. Thank You Ms. OPRAH For ALL That You Do”

The revelations made by Henson and the subsequent reactions from the industry have reignited conversations about the treatment of black actresses in Hollywood. Henson's decision to speak up has garnered both support and skepticism, with fans questioning whether her post praising Oprah was genuine or a result of industry pressure.

This post brings more twists to the talk, with Henson openly thanking Oprah for having her back. But it makes you wonder, considering the past criticisms and accusations thrown at Oprah, if Henson's feelings are genuine.

The controversy has also prompted a closer look at the body language between Henson and Oprah, as analyzed by a TikToker. The suggests discomfort and tension between the two, further fueling speculations about the authenticity of Henson's public statements.

Amidst the unfolding drama, rapper and entrepreneur weighed in on the situation, expressing his support for Taraji P. Henson. In a post featuring a picture of the actress, 50 Cent captioned it with a powerful statement: “They dropped the ball, f*** them Taraji P. Henson. I'm ready to work, let's get it!”

50 Cent throwing his support into the mix adds another dimension to the talk, showing he's got Taraji's back and is up for teaming up down the road.

The whole Hollywood scene is getting hit with some real talk right now. We're talking about equality, fair pay, and how black actresses are treated. Is this gonna kick off a bigger chat and make things better, or are we just adding another page to the book of the same old struggles black artists have been dealing with? We'll have to wait and see.

Watch Taraji P. Henson Interview

Written by: Silvia Tine

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