“I Wish I Could Change My Money” – Taraji P. Henson Discusses First Time She Asked for $500K
In an interview with Variety for their Actors on Actors series Taraji speaks candidly with Pompeo about the things she’s encountered during her journey in Hollywood. For one thing, she’s had to fight for equal pay in a male dominated industry. Constantly having to prove herself to be as good as her male, and white, counterparts. And the first person to pay her what she was worth was none other than director Tyler Perry.
I think the industry knew I was talented. But it’s about money. Are you bankable? I had to continuously prove that. I’ve been trying to prove and improve. I was asking for half a million. I didn’t get paid that until I did my first Tyler Perry film. He was the first person who paid me $500,000.
It was this same confidence she brought along to negotiations for her role as Cookie on Empire. Previously she mentions being a part of a show that she was miserable doing, eventually leaving (she never mentions it by name though she may be referring to CBS’ Person of Interest). She knew it was going to take a lot of wooing and cash to get her to come back tot TV. Plus, when she initially read Cookie’s character she had some reservations.
I thought, “The NAACP, they’re going to get me for this one.” She calls one son, who’s gay, the F-bomb, and she beats one son with a broom. This is something that has never been shown on national television — certainly not by a black woman. When you’re a person of color, you have to be careful about the roles you pick. You want to uplift the people. Once I got past the fear, I was able to really see her.
Finally Taraji admitted that there is clearly an issue with the way black movies are treated as opposed to white movies.
It’s not going to change until privilege reaches across the table and helps. Otherwise, we’re playing a rerun. The only narrative that I wish I could change is my money. It’s almost like they want this incredible performance for a discount price. The black movies — we don’t get big budgets.
Check out the entire Variety interview here.