Taraji P. Henson sobs over being underpaid in Hollywood: ‘The math ain’t mathing’



Taraji P. Henson broke down in tears Wednesday in a SiriusXM interview with Gayle King, claiming she’s “being paid a fraction of the cost” of what she should be making in Hollywood.

The 53-year-old star of “The Color Purple” appeared on the episode alongside the film’s director Blitz Bazawule and co-star Danielle Brooks to promote the upcoming flick, which is produced by King’s pal Oprah Winfrey.

King asked the “Empire” star if she was serious in previous statements about being done with acting, to which Henson replied by taking a deep breath and putting her head in her hand before responding.

“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost,” she said, becoming emotional. “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.’ Well, I have to. The math ain’t mathing.”

The Oscar-nominated “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” star continued, “When you start working a lot, you have a team. Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone. It’s a whole team behind us. They have to get paid. When you hear someone go, ‘Such and such made $10 million,’ that didn’t make it to their account.”

Taraji P. Henson broke down during a SiriusXM interview with Gayle King on Wednesday. YouTube/SiriusXM

“Off the top, Uncle Sam is getting 50%. Now have $5 million. Your team is getting 30% off what you gross, not after what Uncle Same took. Now do the math,” she explained.

“I’m only human,” Henson declared. “Every time I do something and break another glass ceiling, when it’s time to renegotiate I’m at the bottom again like I never did what I just did, and I’m tired. I’m tired. It wears on you. What does that mean? What is that telling me? If I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the f–k am I doing?” she concluded, again covering her face as she sobbed.

Henson has a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Movie Award, and SAG award. She’s also been nominated for four Primetime Emmys, as well as one Oscar.

Brooks, from left, Fantasia Barrino, Henson and Bazawule promote “The Color Purple” on Dec. 7 in Los Angeles. Invision

Despite her successes, Henson also claimed she’s been told there’s not a lot of money to go around for black actors because their stories “don’t translate overseas.”

“I’m tired hearing of that my entire career,” she said. “Twenty-plus years in the game and I hear the same thing and I see what you do for another production but when it’s time to go to bat for us they don’t have enough money. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear it. Enough is enough!

“That’s why I have other [brands] because this industry, if you let it, it will steal your soul but I refuse to let that happen.”

The Post has contacted reps for Henson for comment.

Henson said Wednesday that she almost turned down “The Color Purple” to set an example for other black actresses. YouTube/SiriusXM

Henson founded the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 to promote mental health in black communities. She also launched her beauty line TPH by Taraji in 2020.

Henson also claimed during a SAG-AFTRA discussion on Wednesday that she hasn’t had a pay raise since “Proud Mary” in 2018. She even claimed that she almost turned down “The Color Purple” to set an example for other black actresses.

“If I don’t take a stand, how am I making it easy for Fantasia [Barrino] and Danielle [Brooks] and Halle [Bailey] and Felicia,” she said of her “Purple” co-stars. “Why am I doing this? … Why are you here?”

This isn’t the first time the actress has complained about her salary. In 2019 she confessed she wasn’t satisfied with the $100,000 paycheck she received for David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which co-starred Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.

Henson in a scene from “The Color Purple.” AP

“I want to make this very clear – I’m not saying that Brad or Cate shouldn’t have gotten what they got,” Henson told Variety at the time. “They put asses in seats, so give them their money. They deserve it. I’m not saying they shouldn’t get what they’re getting. I was just asking for half a million – that’s all. That’s it. When I was doing ‘Benjamin Button,’ I wasn’t worth a million yet. My audience was still getting to know me. We thought we were asking for what was fair for me, at the time.”

Henson was able to later negotiate the salary to $150,000 although it was far below the $500,000 she pushed for.

“I asked for half a million. That’s it,” Henson added. “And they gave me $100,000. Does that make sense? I’m No. 3 on the call sheet. Does that make sense to you? All I was asking was $500,000 – that’s all we were asking for.”

“The Color Purple” hits theaters on Christmas Day.





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