Terrence Howard, known for his roles in movies like Hustle and Flow and Iron Man, recently shed light on the issue of underpaid actors and actresses in Hollywood. The award-winning actor’s revelations have reignited discussions about fair compensation within the entertainment industry.
Howard Speaks On Low Pay
In a candid interview, Terrance Howard sat down with Alex Coleman on Live at 9 and talked about his pay for the movie Hustle and Flow. The Chicago native revealed the meager $12,000 he received for his breakthrough role in the film, wherein he also faced additional financial setbacks due to contractual issues.
This raises concerns about actors’ treatment and unions’ role in safeguarding their interests. Howard also disclosed that Paramount Pictures not only paid him a paltry sum but also took advantage of his performances by diverting the royalties to their own pockets.
This situation led Howard to pursue legal action against the studio to claim the royalties he believes he is owed. He stated:
“And then on top of that, what Paramount did, instead of putting my name as ‘Terrence Howard’ performing the songs, they put ‘performed by Djay.’ Well, they owned Djay, so guess what? The performance royalties went to Paramount. So now, I’ve got to sue Paramount, and send them a letter to say, ‘Hey, you guys owe me about 20 years’ worth of residuals and performance royalties.’ I was just trying to pay my rent then.”
Other Black Actors Who Were Undercompensated
Furthermore, Howard expressed his frustrations with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), stating that the union failed to support him. Howard went on to express:
“I want to get rid of the agents, I want to get rid of the managers, I want to get rid of the unions. SAG has done nothing. They sit up and say they’re here for us now they’re talking because they haven’t gotten their money. When I went to SAG five years ago saying FOX stole my image from Hustle & Flow and they’re monetizing it, SAG didn’t do anything to help me. They waited nine months until the statute of limitations was up. They’re not here to help the actors, they’re here to make their money.”
The Empire star’s story is not an isolated incident. Other actors have also experienced underpayment in the industry:
“I .was only paid $10,000 for the part. It’s one of those things—it was just a small movie. We filmed it in 20 days. I got about $10,000 for it or whatever, I didn’t care. I wanted the opportunity.”
James Earl Jones
In addition, iconic actor James Earl Jones, renowned for his portrayal of Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, divulged that he received a mere $7,000 for his iconic role in the groundbreaking film.
Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson, Howard’s Hustle and Flow and Empire co-star, has also faced unequal compensation. The popular actress disclosed that she was paid $150,000 for her Oscar-nominated role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a fraction of what her white co-stars received.
This disparity in pay points to a systemic issue of racial discrimination and biases in the industry. She said:
“I’m not saying they shouldn’t have paid Cate and Brad what they deserved. They deserved that because when this comes out, people are coming because of Brad, and they’re going to discover me. I’m bringing a certain amount to the seat, too, and I felt like what I was asking at that time in my career was fair.”
Howard Retires From The Television Screen
In relevance to Terrance Howard’s acting ventures, in 2019, the Empire star saw his retirement coming sooner than later. The popular veteran actor had announced his intent to fall back from acting once his Fox series ended.
Mo’Nique Says ‘Give Us What We Rightfully Deserve’
The plight of underpaid actors and actresses extends beyond the big screen. Mo’Nique, alongside Countess Vaughn, and her husband, Sidney Hicks, advocated for fair compensation for their roles in the hit television series The Parkers. Their demands shed light on the ongoing struggle for equitable pay within the entertainment industry.