Taraji P. Henson broke down in tears during a SiriusXM interview with Gayle King while promoting her new film, “The Color Purple.” King asked the Oscar and Emmy-nominated actor if she was still thinking about quitting acting, which King had heard rumors of Henson previously saying. Henson responded by revealing she has hit her breaking point in Hollywood since she continues to be underpaid.
“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost,” Henson said. “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 math-ing. 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.”
Henson was nearly sobbing at this point in the interview. She went on to explain that despite her various successes, she still gets told there’s not a lot of money on the table because Black actors and stories “don’t translate overseas,” among other excuses.
“I’m tired hearing of that my entire career,” Henson 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. I refuse to let that happen.”
Henson’s “The Color Purple” director Blitz Bazawule backed up her claim, sharing that he had to fight for all of his leading actors to be cast in the film despite their various successes. He said “it was like you were never here” when he brought up their names to the studio.
Henson has often been outspoken about not being paid fairly in Hollywood.
Henson’s emotional SiriusXM interview was later shared to X (formerly Twitter) by “A Black Lady Sketch Show” creator Robin Thede, who noted that Henson was “telling the absolute truth.”