Taraji P. Henson Gets Real About Representation And Pay Inequality In Hollywood

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Taraji P. Henson isn't mincing words when it comes to representation in Hollywood.

The actress recently sat down for an Actress Oscar Roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter and six other actresses, where she discussed what it's like working as a black woman in showbiz.

taraji p hensonTaraji P. Henson arrives at the 2016 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Asked whether or not the entertainment industry was doing enough for black actors, Henson was pretty blunt in her response.

“Have we seen enough representation of African-American stories? No. But has Hollywood been horrible to me? No. I’ve worked,” she said. “Did I get paid what I deserve? That is the question we should be talking about. But I can’t take that on because I have worked and I’ve seen my career do this. So I never wallow in the muck and say, 'Oh, it’s hard.' That’s a given. I can’t take this skin off. We know what the deal is. You understand? So I’m not going to make it an issue. I’m going to work my a-s off and hopefully the work that I’m doing will change things, will make it better for the next one coming behind me. You let me in, give me an inch, I’ll take a mile. I’ve come a long way.”

There's no question that Henson has worked her butt off: In the past few years alone, the 46-year-old actress has gone from indie darling to superstar thanks to her breakout role as Cookie Lyons in the TV series "Empire" and now, a maybe Oscar contender for her role as NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in the film "Hidden Figures."

"To me, ["Hidden Figures"] is about humanity, humans coming together, focusing on one goal," Henson told The Hollywood Reporter.

Despite her success, the "Hustle & Flow" star admitted it's still difficult being a minority who works in Hollywood.

"It's hard, it's always hard," she said. "I've have white friends, blond hair, blue eyes that ain't worked in five years."

"Did I get paid what I deserve? That is the question we should be talking about."

Actress Amy Adams, who was also part of the roundtable discussion, added producers have the power to make Hollywood more inclusive and close the gender gap.

“Who you should be asking is the producer round table: ‘Do you think minorities are under-represented? Do you think women are underpaid?’” Adams said. “[Actresses] are always put on the chopping block to put our opinion out there, and that question is never asked. I’m like, ‘Why don’t you ask them and then have their statements be the headlines in the press?’ I don’t want to be a headline anymore about pay equality.”

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