Why Taraji P. Henson Fired Her Entire Team After 'Empire'

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Taraji P. Henson He says that of all the smart business decisions he's made in Hollywood, one stands out as the best.

in a new interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, the 53-year-old star of The color Purple He said he fired his entire team after his time on the hit FOX series Empire was one of the most notable.

“Fire everyone after Cookie,” he replied while talking to Varieties Angelique Jackson. “Everyone had to leave.”

He hidden figures The actress, who played Cookie Lyon for six seasons before the show's end in 2020, noted her character's many iconic attributes when explaining why she thought her team would be ready and able to capitalize on her fan-favorite role after for the program to end. .

“Where's my deal? Where's my commercial? Cookie was at the top of the fashion game. Where's my endorsement? What did they plan after this? That's why they haven't seen me in so long. They had nothing prepared,” Henson said during the meeting.

The only thing his team gave him afterwards Empire What she had ended up with was the idea of ​​a spin-off centered on Cookie, which she said she was only open to if it had been done “right.”

“All they wanted was another Cookie show, and I said, 'I'll do it, but it has to be right. People deserve it; she's too beloved for all of you to screw up.' And then when they didn't do it right , I said, 'Well, that's it,' and they didn't have anything else. 'You're all fucking fired,'” he said.

FOX via Getty Images

This interview comes after the Oscar-nominated actress recently broke while talking about the significant wage inequality in Hollywood.

In a conversation with King Gayle for SiriusXM radio next Danielle Brooks and The color Purple director Blitz Bazawule, things got bleak when Henson opened up about her frustrations over the lack of fair pay in the industry, implying that long-standing issues are determining factors in whether she quits acting for good.

“I'm tired of working so hard, being kind in what I do, and getting paid a fraction of the cost,” she said. “I'm tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over again. You get tired. I hear people say 'you work so hard!' “I have to do it. Math is not math.”

Henson noted that a successful career in Hollywood requires a team of people who deserve a salary. “What we do comes with big bills. We don't do it alone,” he said. “The fact that we're here means there's a whole team behind us. They have to get paid.”

“When you hear someone say, 'So-and-so made $10 million,' that didn't make it into their account,” Henson continued. “From above, Uncle Sam is getting 50%. Now (you) have $5 million. Your team is getting 30% – or whatever you figure – of what you raise, not after what Uncle Sam took Sam. Now do the same. math.”

“I'm human. Every time I do something and break another glass ceiling, when the time comes to renegotiate, I'm back down like I never did what I just did, and I'm tired,” she lamented. “I'm tired. It wears you down. What does that mean? What does that tell me? If I can't fight because they're coming after me, then what the fuck am I doing?”

Leon Bennett/Getty Images

This is not the first time Henson has spoken on the subject. In his 2016 memoirs, road girlclaimed that he experienced a considerable pay discrepancy while working on the 2008 film. The curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Compared to her co-stars, including Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, Henson wrote that she was paid “the equivalent of a couch change.” He said his salary was in the “lower” six figures and claimed he had to foot the hotel bill for several months during production, an arrangement he called “insulting.”

In 2019, she expanded on his claims while speaking with Variety, saying she was initially offered $100,000 for the role that later earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Henson claimed that he was able to increase the salary to $150,000, but that it was still far short of the $500,000 he expected to earn as the third-billed actor in a studio film directed by David Fincher.

“I want to make this very clear: I'm not saying that Brad or Cate shouldn't have gotten what they got,” Henson said at the time. “They put asses in seats, so give them their money. They deserve it. I'm not saying they shouldn't get what they're getting. I was just asking for half a million, that's all. That's all. .When I was doing Benjamin Button, still not worth a million. My audience was still starting to get to know me. “We thought we were asking for what was fair for me at that time.”

“I asked for half a million. That's all,” Henson added. “And they gave me $100,000. Does that make sense? I'm number three on the call sheet. Does that make sense to you? All I was asking for was $500,000; that's all we were asking for.”

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