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Taraji P. Henson Says She Was Paid Only $150K for Oscar-Nominated Role; Didn’t Get Paid Her Worth Until Being Hired By Tyler Perry

Taraji P. Henson is currently one of the most memorable actresses in Hollywood, but it took her many years to receive the monetary gains that matched her talent. 

In an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning,” Henson recalled how she accepted a lowball figure to be part of the cast of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” in 2008. 

(Photo via Instagram @tarajiphenson)

“I wasn’t even being greedy,” Henson shared. “I knew that I was up and coming, but surely I know that I can make you $500,000 with my fanbase.” 

Henson already had starred in films such as “Baby Boy,” “Hustle & Flow” and “Four Brothers” and received positive reviews for her character portrayals. Yet not only was Henson not able to earn $500,000 for her role of Queenie in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” she was only offered $75,000. 

“You’ve got to check your ego. I mean, I’m a black woman, so I knew it was going to be a fight,” Henson told Variety in an interview.  “I don’t get paid if I don’t fight.” 

Her team ultimately was able to negotiate $150,000 and Henson earned an Oscar nomination for “Best Supporting Actress.” 

For her portrayal of Queenie, Henson’s phone began ringing off the hook. She was able to star in movies such as “Hidden Figures,” the “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” franchise, “Proud Mary” and “Acrimony.” Henson also has starred in television series such as “Empire” and in a recurring role on ABC’s “Abbott Elementary.” Today Henson is worth a reported $25 million and is set to hit the silver screen later in December as Shug Avery in “The Color Purple.” 

Still Fighting for Fair Compensation 

Yet even after being nominated for an Oscar,  receiving a Golden Globe for her role on “Empire,” and an NAACP Image Award for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Henson was still fighting to be paid well. 

“I think the industry knew I was talented. They got that part, but it’s about money. It’s about — are you bankable? Can you open a film?” she said to Variety. “Will I get what I put in this film back, you know? So I had to continuously prove that. And it’s like I’ve just been trying to prove it and prove it. That’s why I work so hard.”

Henson shares that it wasn’t until she starred in a Tyler Perry film that she began to be paid her true worth. Henson has starred in several of Perry’s films, including “The Family That Preys,” “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” and “Acrimony.”

“I was asking for half a million,” Henson told CBS Sunday Morning. “I didn’t get paid that until I did my first Tyler Perry film. He was the first person that gave — that broke the standard that I was getting paid for films, and he gave me $500,000.”

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