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Taraji P. Henson breaks down, considers leaving Hollywood over pay inequalities

 Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson. (Courtesy)

Renowned Oscar-nominated actress, Golden Globe winner, and multi-NAACP Image Award recipient Taraji P. Henson is considering a departure from Hollywood due to the persistent issue of significant pay inequality in the industry. 

In a candid conversation with Gayle King on SiriusXM radio while promoting her upcoming film, The Color Purple, alongside fellow guests Danielle Brooks and Blitz Bazawule, Henson expressed her frustration with the unequal compensation she and her peers often face.

Expressing weariness from what she perceives as a systemic problem, Henson articulated her dissatisfaction with the industry's approach to compensating its talents. 

"I'm just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost," she lamented. "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!' I have to. The math ain't mathing." This statement echoed the sentiments of numerous actresses who have long grappled with the industry's systemic pay disparities.

Henson drew attention to the collaborative nature of the film industry, emphasizing that success requires a dedicated team, each deserving fair compensation. 

"And when you start working a lot, you have a team. Big bills come with what we do. We don't do this alone," she asserted, providing insight into the financial intricacies of a Hollywood career. 

The actress underscored the vital role played by the entire team, imploring that they, too, should be adequately remunerated.

Reflecting on her own journey, Henson expressed frustration with the cyclical nature of contract negotiations, especially when she achieves career milestones. 

"I'm only human. 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," she lamented. "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 said, offering a glimpse into the perpetual struggles faced by women in the industry when advocating for fair compensation.

The seasoned actress did not mince words in critiquing the industry's lack of consistency in recognizing and valuing talent. 

"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 any money. They play in your face. 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," Henson passionately asserted, highlighting what she perceives as a systemic issue.

Henson's candid revelations resonated across the industry, prompting fellow luminaries to voice their support. 

Viola Davis, another highly regarded actress, praised Henson for her courage by sharing a clip of the interview on her Instagram page with the caption, "This!!!! THIS!!! ????????." The post garnered attention and support from various notable figures.

Gabrielle Union, known for her advocacy for equality, added her voice to the conversation, stating, "Not a damn lie told. Not. A. Damn. Lie." Union acknowledged the toll that advocating for change takes on one's mind, health, soul, and career, emphasizing the need for enduring commitment.

Media personality Steve Harvey commented, "The truth about Hollywood,"  a sentiment echoed by Award-winning actress Halle Berry who stated, "This is straight facts sister T! Thank you for spitting the facts upon facts."

Winston Duke, a prominent figure in the film industry known for his role in Black Panther, also expressed gratitude to Henson for "speaking this truth" and commended her for representing the cause throughout her career. Duke extended his thanks to other advocates, including Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, acknowledging them as "true heroes."

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