Taraji P. Henson is all about business. In a recent conversation with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, the actress shared that she made the bold decision to part ways with her entire team when they failed to leverage the success of her role in “Empire” after the show concluded in 2020.
During the interview with Variety’s Angelique Jackson, the 53-year-old Oscar-nominated star expressed her disappointment at the lack of opportunities that followed the end of the hit Fox drama, where she portrayed the iconic character Cookie Lyon for six seasons.
Frustrated, she questioned, “Where is my deal? Where’s my commercial? Cookie was at the top of the fashion game. Where is my endorsement? What did you have set up for after this?” Henson revealed that her expectations were not met, leading to a prolonged absence from the public eye.
Henson, known for her strong advocacy against pay inequality in Hollywood, recounted how she was open to collaborating with her team when they proposed another project centered around a character like Cookie. However, when the idea didn’t meet her standards, she decisively ended the partnership, declaring, “You’re all f—kin’ fired,” earning applause from the audience.
In the same interview, Henson addressed the persistent pay disparities faced by her and her black colleagues in the entertainment industry. She emphasized her commitment to fighting against unfair offers, stating, “I put in the work so that I could have a voice so that I could say no so that I could fight for those coming in behind me.”
This sentiment echoes her recent emotional conversation with Gayle King on SiriusXM, where she expressed exhaustion over working hard, being gracious, and receiving disproportionately low compensation. Henson tearfully questioned the cycle of breaking glass ceilings only to find herself at the bottom during renegotiations.
Highlighting the financial challenges actors face, she pointed out that significant portions of their salaries go to taxes and team commissions, leaving them with much less than their gross earnings. Henson’s advocacy for fair compensation dates back to 2019, when she revealed that she was negotiating her salary for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” from an initial offer of $100,000 to $150,000, still falling short of her original request for $500,000.