Taraji P. Henson Opens Up About Pay Inequality and Racism in Hollywood

Earlier this year, the #OscarsSoWhite controversy brought to light the racism that continues to permeate Hollywood. The notoriety brought about some changes including a new measure intended to diversify Academy members in the coming years. In The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable, Taraji P. Henson weighed in on the issue of inclusion in the industry.

It’s always hard. I have white friends, blond hair, blue eyes, who ain’t worked in five years. Have we seen enough representation of African-American stories? No,” she said. “But has Hollywood been horrible to me? No. I’ve worked. Did I get paid what I deserve? That is the question we should be talking about. But I can’t take that on because I have worked and I’ve seen my career do this. So I never wallow in the muck and say, ‘Oh, it’s hard.’ That’s a given.”

Henson told her fellow actresses, including Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Annette Bening, Naomie Harris and Isabelle Huppert, that her goal has always been to bring about change by delivering performances that validate the stories shows and films are attempting to tell in the African-American community.

“I can’t take this skin off. We know what the deal is. You understand? So I’m not going to make it an issue,” she said. “I’m going to work my ass off and hopefully the work that I’m doing will change things, will make it better for the next one coming behind me. You let me in, give me an inch, I’ll take a mile. I’ve come a long way.”

The roundtable also included discussions on stage fright, the on-screen depiction of rape, and the questions they’d like men in the industry to get asked for once. Head to The Hollywood Reporter to read more.