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Actress Taraji P. Henson is continuing to talk about her paycheck from the 2008 film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Henson starred in the film alongside Hollywood’s established stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. But when it came to her payout, she pocketed significantly less money than her peers. Henson has previously stated that she pocketed roughly $40,000 for her role in the film, despite her total check netting $150,000. Her co-stars, however, pocketed millions.
While discussing the evolution of recognition and pay disparities in Hollywood while on “The Real” last week, Henson, repeating a narrative she brought up in February, broke down exactly why her pay was significantly less than other members of the film’s cast. Making reference of her $150,000 paycheck, the “Empire” star claimed her six-figure check turned into a deposit of less than $50,000.
“When you start making that kind of money Uncle Sam takes 50 percent, so let’s do the math,” she began during the Oct. 8 taping. “So that leaves me with 75 [thousand], then I have to pay another thirty percent to my team who did all the work to get me that job. So, I don’t pay them 30 percent of the 75 [thousand], no, no no, I pay them 30 percent of the 150 [thousand]. So what does that compute to?” implying that her net income for the project was just $30,000.
She continued, “OK, so let’s break it down like this: You have twelve months in a year to make your money right. If you do a film for five months that takes you off the market for anything else or any other kind of coin until you’re done with that show,” she further explained.
Henson, 51, then explained when it came to banking on her talents her money wasn’t being spent on a lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous.
“At the time my son’s school tuition, because he was in high school at Buckley, was $30,000. I chose my son’s education over fancy cars and all those things, and so literally for five months that’s what I made, his tuition,” she said. “Now what? I gotta hit the pavement again and I gotta scrounge up another check, so that is how that works.”
Addressing fans and critics who may have perceived her as being ungrateful or even greedy when it came to her check from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” she said: “And never did I expect to get paid what my counterparts, they have worked to get their quote, they deserve exactly what they’re getting. But, however, I deserve a little more too.”
Prior to starring alongside Pitt in the critically acclaimed film, Henson had several guest appearances in various television shows, as well as a standout role in the 2005 blockbuster “Hustle and Flow.” Still her big payout would not come until 2009.
In the past, Henson has publicly spoken on Tyler Perry being the first studio head in the business to pay her worth. While speaking with “The Real” co-hosts Loni Love and Garvelle Beauvis she revisited that her asking price of $500,000 that Perry obliged without hesitation. At the time, she starred in “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” and “The Family That Preys” alongside Sanaa Lathan.
“That was what I was asking for,” she said. “I wasn’t a greedy person. I understood the game, I know that I can’t make as much as a certain person that’s been in the game longer than me, has proven box office success. I am proving myself still, but at the same time, I’m not going to belittle myself and my worth. I know that I can at least bring you $500,000 in ticket sales, if not more.”
Henson’s fans appreciated how the actress broke down the cost of Hollywood’s glitz and glamour.
“Wow that is crazy. She is so talented and humble. She deserves way more.”
“It’s called show BUSINESS. I’m glad Taraji is paying attention to the business part and asking for what she’s worth. She truly deserves it.”
“She sounded exactly like Left Eye when she explained why TLC made no money. This is actually heartbreaking. These talents deserve better!”