Taraji P. Henson Addresses Racism In Hollywood In New Memoir
Taraji P. Henson‘s Around the Way Girl: A Memoir was recently released, but excerpts from the book have been published online.
Around the Way Girl explores everything from Henson living as a single mom in college to a domestic violence incident involving her son’s father.
But the book also touches upon Henson’s career in Hollywood, and although she’s become a bigger name in recent years thanks to her role as Loretha “Cookie” Lyon on Empire (as well as her forthcoming portrayal of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures), she still endured some mistreatment that speaks to Hollywood’s ongoing issues of diverse casting and equal earnings for women of color (especially black women).
In one chapter titled “On Being a Black Woman in Hollywood,” Henson recalled the time in which she lost out on a role that was specifically made for her, to Naomi Watts.
“Time and again, I’ve lost roles because someone with the ability to green light a film couldn’t see black women beyond a very limited purview he or she thought ‘fit’ audience expectations,” Henson wrote in the memoir.
“It was a meaty gig,” the actress continued. “I would have loved it. Alas, I couldn’t get served at that particular restaurant.”
The film that Henson is referring to was the 2014 comedy St. Vincent. Director and screenwriter Theodore Melfi wrote the role of Daka Paramova, a pregnant Russian stripper, specifically for Henson.
Henson also wrote about the low salary she received for her Academy Award nominated role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She claimed she received “the equivalent of sofa change” compared to the sums of co stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, adding that her paycheck was near “the lowest of six figures.”
“When I did that [role], my performance of Queenie became transformed into a spiritual awakening, not just for me but also the audiences who watched the film and cheered my performance,” she wrote.
Around the Way Girl is available for purchase online.