'Empire' Star Taraji Henson Exposes Hollywood's Racism in New Memoir

The gender pay gap in Hollywood is especially significant for women of color. "Empire" star Taraji P. Henson's new memoir "Around the Way Girl" is bringing light to the quiet racism in the industry, an issue which is seldom confronted in the mainstream outside of Oscar time. 


Regarding the film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which she recieved an Oscar nomination, Henson writes:

Both Brad and Cate got millions, [yet despite being the third principal character, I had] to agree to pay my own location fees while filming in New Orleans, meaning three months of hotel expenses would be coming directly out of my pocket. Insult, meet injury.

In the book, a humiliated Henson candidly reflects on the obvious lack of complex roles for black women in Hollywood: 

The math really is pretty simple: there are way more talented black actresses than there are intelligent, meaningful roles for them, and we’re consistently charged with diving for the crumbs of the scraps, lest we starve. This is exactly how a studio can get away with paying the person who’s name is third on the call sheet of a big-budget film less than 2 percent what it’s paying the person whose name is listed first.

In an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, Henson talked about her parents and how she nearly chickened out of publishing her memoir.  

"I almost sent the check back, I got scared because now all eyes are on me, so I almost freaked out and backed out," Henson said about her newfound fame as Cookie. But Henson's make-up artist convinced her otherwise.

"People need your story," Henson's make-up artist told her. And so she published it.

"Around the Way Girl" is currently the #1 New Releasein Ethnic & National Biographies on Amazon

Watch Henson's interview with Roberts here:

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.