Taraji P. Henson is an Emmy and Oscar nominated actress who won a Golden Globe in January for her role on hit drama series Empire. But while the 46-year-old actress’s career may look like a success story, Henson has detailed the shocking racism she has suffered at the hands of Hollywood executives in a new memoir. The memoir, Around the Way Girl, includes a chapter called “On Being a Black Woman in Hollywood” in which she discusses constantly losing roles, or being underpaid, based on the colour of her skin.
“Time and again, I’ve lost roles because someone with the ability to green-light a film couldn’t see black women beyond a very limited purview he or she thought ‘fit’ audience expectations.”
The actress was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but in Around the Way Girl, Henson claims she was paid far less than her co-stars.
Henson said she received “the equivalent of sofa change” compared to what Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were paid, adding that her pay was “the lowest of six figures”But she said she put aside her disappointment and focused on her acting, which earned the actress her first Academy Award nod.
“When I did that, my performance of Queenie became transformed into a spiritual awakening, not just for me but also the audiences who watched the film and cheered my performance.”