Jada Pinkett Smith Recalls This Insanely Sexist Response When She Asked To Be Paid Better for Acting

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Jada Pinkett Smith is siding with Taraji P. Henson in her fight against pay disparity in Hollywood. While appearing on NPR’s It’s Been a Minute, the actress applauded Henson and shared her own struggle to get paid fairly during her acting career. In the conversation she revealed a particularly scathing response she has heard when the issue of unfair pay came up.

After Henson’s recent admissions about how pay disparity has hindered her career, Pinkett Smith was asked by NPR is she resonated with The Color Purple star’s experience.

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“Absolutely,” Pinkett Smith said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “My heart broke for Taraji, and I was also happy [to see] how courageous she was to speak about it in the way that she did.”

Taraji P. Henson at the 2023 Academy Museum Gala held at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 3, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)
Taraji P. Henson at the 2023 Academy Museum Gala held at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 3, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

“One of the things with Taraji is that she is the breadwinner of her family. Her pressures would be different than mine. I have to put that out front, because if it’s time to walk away, that’s not always the solution,” the Red Table Talk host explained. “Because what people don’t understand with us as Black entertainers, we carry a lot of people with us.”

Jada Pinkett Smith said her marriage to Will Smith impacted her pay in Hollywood.

NPR’s host noted that Pinkett Smith’s marriage with Will Smith likely discouraged filmmakers from paying her high sums of money, which the actress then agreed with, explaining the harsh response she would hear when the topic of pay came up.

Yes, people would literally say, ‘Well, you don’t need it. You’re married to Will.’”

Pinkett Smith said that part of the reason she has retreated from acting in recent years is due to her struggle to get compensated fairly. “That has a lot to do with it and also wanting to get on the other side to help remedy that as a producer,” she said. “It’s not to say that I won’t get in front of the camera, but what it takes for me to get in front of the camera, it’s more. Just in regards to the kind of roles that I want to play or that interest me. And I’m thinking about directing.”

Pinkett Smith’s comment come after Henson spoke out in a December interview about being underpaid in comparison to men and white women. “I’m just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost,” Henson said during a tearful conversation with Gayle King for SiriusXM. “I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired. I hear people go, ‘You work a lot.’ Well, I have to.”

“When you start working a lot, you have a team,” she said. “Big bills come with what we do. We don’t do this alone. It’s a whole team behind us. They have to get paid.”

“Every time I do something and 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 said. “It wears on you. What does that mean? What is that telling me?”

“I’m tired hearing of that my entire career,” Henson admitted. “Twenty-plus years in the game and I hear the same thing and I see what you do for another production but when it’s time to go to bat for us they don’t have enough money. And I’m just supposed to smile and grin and bear it. Enough is enough!”

Before you go, click here to see all of the highest paid women in Hollywood!

 

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