Taraji P. Henson broke down in tears when asked if she would give up acting: ‘This industry will steal your soul’

Taraji P. Henson broke down in tears when asked if she would give up acting: "This industry will steal your soul"
Credit: Taraji P. Henson Instagram

The renowned actress, Taraji P. Henson, who is popularly known for her captivating performances, recently revealed a vulnerable side of herself that has left everyone in shock, as the 53-year-old actress couldn’t hold back her tears when asked a poignant question about giving up acting during a SiriusXM interview with Gayle King while promoting her new film, “The Color Purple.”

Henson was seen getting emotional as she candidly shed light on the harsh realities of the entertainment industry despite being a part of it for years, she’s still not paid fairly, quote: “Enough is enough! This industry will steal your soul. I refuse to let that happen.” At that moment, the Oscar and Emmy-nominated actor’s raw honesty resonated with her fans as Henson also addressed talks about her quitting acting, which King had heard rumors of Henson previously saying. 

In response, Henson stated that she had reached her breaking point in Hollywood due to her persistent underpayment, quote:

“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost,” Henson said. “I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired. I hear people go, ‘You work a lot.’ Well, I have to. The math ain’t math-ing. When you start working a lot, you have a team. Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone. It’s a whole team behind us. They have to get paid.”

Watch the full interview below: 

Taraji P. Henson May Quit Acting Over Pay, Treatment in the Entertainment Industry

As the interview continued Henson stated, “When you hear someone go, ‘Such and such made $10 million,’ that didn’t make it to their account.” Henson was nearly sobbing at this point as she added:

“Off the top, Uncle Sam is getting 50%. Now I have $5 million. Your team is getting 30% of what you gross, not after what Uncle Sam took. Now do the math. I’m only human. Every time I do something and break another glass ceiling, when it’s time to renegotiate I’m at the bottom again like I never did what I just did, and I’m tired. I’m tired. It wears on you. What does that mean? What is that telling me? If I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the fuck am I doing?”

In the later part of the interview, she explains that, despite her many accomplishments, she continues to hear excuses such as Black actors and stories don’t translate overseas.

“I’m tired of hearing that my entire career,” Henson said. “Twenty-plus years in the game and I hear the same thing and I see what you do for another production but when it’s time to go to bat for us they don’t have enough money. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear it. Enough is enough! That’s why I have other [brands] because in this industry, if you let it, it will steal your soul. I refuse to let that happen.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by taraji p henson (@tarajiphenson)

The interview has found a way to create headlines that have led many creators and their followers to showcase their support. For context, Henson’s emotional SiriusXM interview was shared by “A Black Lady Sketch Show” creator Robin Thede, who noted Henson was “telling the absolute truth.” Thede continued to write, “70-80% of GROSS income is gone off top for taxes & commissions (agents, managers, lawyers), and for those who pay other employees as well? Babyyyy! The math ain’t math-ing! And I know – you’re like $10M minus $8M is still $2M…Yes that’s true.”

She emphasized to her followers who joined the conversation by tweeting, “Yes that’s true. However, $10M is VERY RARE!” 

Thede also stated, “Most of your fav. Black actresses make about $250k-$500k for STARRING in movies (so $50-$100k net) and might only get ONE project a year. Now they have to pay social media managers (cause yall will drag them if they don’t have dope content), stylists (cause yall will drag them if they look busted), HAIR/WIGS (cause yall will drag them if they look busted), not to mention important shit like childcare, school for said kids (!!), keeping a roof over their heads (somewhere they can feel safe w/their family away from paparazzi who invade their privacy).”

Most recently, Henson will be seen in the upcoming film adaptation of the musical The Color Purple (2023) acting alongside Danielle Brooks. The film is set to be released on Monday, December 25, 2023, from Warner Bros. In addition to this, she will star in and produce The Emmett Till Story, a film about Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago teen who was abducted, tortured, murdered, and dumped in a river by two white men in rural Mississippi in 1955. Henson will play Till’s mother, Mamie.