Actress Taraji P. Henson is on the promo trail for some upcoming projects. With season 2 of her Facebook series “Peace of Mind with Taraji” coming up and a Muppets special on the horizon, Ms. Henson is hitting the pavement and doing what she does best—serving up real conversations and funny stories from her career. She recently caught up with the ladies of The Real to chat misconceptions over how Hollywood stars get paid and just how much she walked away from Benjamin Button with.
Taraji P. Henson scored a major nomination thanks to Benjamin Button. The 2008 fantasy sci-fiction drama scored her an Academy Award nomination for best-supporting actress. While the accolade helped catapult her career to new highs, Henson explains that she had to hit the ground running following the film wrapping due to how little she made from the flick.
While discussing pay with Loni Love and Garcelle Beauvais, she praised director Tyler Perry for being the first person in her career to pay her a fair wage. Loni love asked, “You said that Tyler Perry was the first person to pay you what you were worth?” She replied, “That’s what I was asking for. 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 that’s proven box office success. I’m proving myself still.” However, she said, “I’m not going to belittle myself, my talent and my worth. I know that I can at least bring you $500,000 in ticket sales.”
They then went into how much she got paid for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. They brought up that she was paid $150,000 for the role, but Henson clarified that what she paid and what she took home were two different things. “When you start making that kind of money Uncle Sam takes 50%. So that leaves me with $75k now. Then I have to pay another 30% to my team who did all the work to get me that job. I don’t pay them 30% of the $75k, no no no, I pay them 30% of my $150k that comes out of my $75k. So what does that compute too?”
She continued, “You have 12 months in a year to make your money. If you do a film for five months, that take you off the market for anything else to earn any other kind of coin until you’re done with that show. At the time my son’s school tuition was $30k dollars. I chose my son’s education over fancy cars and all those things. So literally for five months that’s all I made, his tuition. So I got to hit the pavement now and scrounge up another check.”
Loni Love and Garcelle Beauvais, also actresses, thanks Henson for her transparency because so many people have the misconception of how they make money. They point out that this breakdown is even worst because they are being underpaid to begin with. Henson capped it off with, “You see someone sold something to a streaming service for 20 million dollars. Sounds great. Do that math I just told you. They literally walk away with less than half of that.”