In Hollywood, Black actresses consistently voice their grievances against the industry’s pay disparity. And Black actresses have been speaking on the topic for years. 

In the most recent incident, during an interview with Gayle King on SiriusXM, actress Taraji P. Henson broke down while admitting she considered quitting acting. 

Credit: @siriusxm/YouTube

“I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, being paid a fraction of the cost,” “The Color Purple” star said. “I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired.”

The Golden Globe actress started acting in 1998, and she has starred in hits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Empire.” 

Yet despite her accolades, she still struggles to be paid her worth. 

“It seems every time I do something, and I break another glass ceiling, when it’s time to renegotiate, I’m at the bottom again, like I never did what I just did,” she told King. “And I’m just tired. It wears on you, you know?”

Henson has publicly spoken about the pay disparity in Hollywood multiple times before. 

Equal Pay Has Never Been Equal

The issue of unequal pay for Black women in Hollywood remains prevalent. Despite their talent and contributions, Black actresses consistently face disparities in compensation when compared to their counterparts. This wage gap reflects systemic biases within the industry, perpetuating financial inequities for Black women in various roles.

Efforts to address this problem face resistance, emphasizing the slow pace of change. There is a need for transparent salary structures and fair negotiations. For instance, when Executive Producer Michelle Ebony Hardy spoke to 21Ninety about the currently Hollywood Strikes fighting for livable wages. However, she noted that the struggle was harder for Black and Brown people in Hollywood.

More Black actresses are speaking out against these systemic barriers. There is a growing call for Hollywood to collectively acknowledge and actively rectify the longstanding issue of financial inequity. This ensures that Black women receive fair and equal compensation for their roles.

Here are eight other instances where Black actresses have spoken out about the unfair pay wages in Hollywood. 

Different Times Black Actresses Spoke Out 


In addition to actress Mo’Nique’s accomplishments, she’s been a vocal advocate for pay equality in Hollywood. The Academy Award-winning actress and comedian took a stand against Netflix when she discovered a significant pay disparity compared to her colleagues. Mo’Nique’s bold stance underscored the pervasive nature of the issue within the entertainment industry. Her actions brought attention to the widespread problem of unequal compensation. And unfortunately, at one point, caused her to become a pariah in Hollywood.

Eventually, Mo’Nique received an apologies and her Netflix Debut, “My Name Is Mo’Nique.”

Viola Davis

An Oscar-winning actress, Viola Davis, has been vocal about the industry’s discrimination. Davis asserted that Black actresses often receive lower pay than their white counterparts. She highlights the need for systemic change to rectify the deep-rooted problem.

Gabrielle Union

Known for her roles in “Bring It On” and “Being Mary Jane,” Gabrielle Union has consistently challenged the status quo. Union advocates for equal pay. She has been open about Black actresses’ challenges when negotiating salaries compared to their white colleagues.

Regina King

Academy Award winner Regina King has not stopped addressing the wage gap. King has called for more accountability within the industry. She urges studios to rectify pay discrepancies and promote equal opportunities for all actresses.

Tracee Ellis Ross

The star of “Black-ish,” Tracee Ellis Ross, emphasized recognizing and rectifying pay disparities. Ross, daughter of music icon Diana Ross, has advocated for fair compensation. She urges the industry to value Black actresses’ contributions appropriately.

Octavia Spencer

The Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer consistently advocates for equal pay. Spencer has stressed the need for transparency in negotiations. She has used her platform to shed light on Black actresses’ challenges in the industry.

Nia Long

With a career spanning decades, Nia Long has witnessed the inequalities within Hollywood. Long has spoken out against the industry’s tendency to undervalue Black actresses, urging for a fair and just compensation system.

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith is a multifaceted talent at the forefront of conversations about pay equity. Pinkett Smith has shared her experiences navigating Hollywood’s unequal terrain. She calls for systemic changes to ensure fair pay for Black actresses.

These instances highlight a consistent pattern of unequal pay within Hollywood, disproportionately affecting Black actresses. The industry must acknowledge and rectify these disparities to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment. As Black actresses continue to address the issue, the hope is that Hollywood will respond with concrete actions.