How Taraji P. Henson Really Feels About Tyler Perry

In over two decades, Taraji P. Henson has grown from a bit player in the industry to a household name. Amassing over 35 awards and 75 nominations, Henson is one of Hollywood's most in-demand actresses. 

The Washington, D.C. native's critically acclaimed role of Cookie Lyon on Fox's Empire series took her career to new heights. In addition to hosting the 2020 American Music Awards, the Hidden Figures star has her own show, Peace of Mind with Taraji, that focuses on mental health. Henson also made an appearance in Megan Thee Stallion's "Body" video, receiving all-around praise from social media users. 

Henson may be enjoying the fruits of her labor now, but she had to pay her dues during her earlier years in Hollywood to get the pay she felt she deserved. Like most Black actors starting out in Hollywood, Henson has experienced being underpaid for her work, even for a role that earned her an Academy Award nomination. However, there's one person who Henson feels paid her what she's worth:Tyler Perry.

Taraji P. Henson says Tyler Perry was the first to pay her what she's worth

Taraji P. Henson's breakthrough role, Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, made her an Oscar nominee. However, Henson was paid less compared to her co-stars and earned far less than her initial asking price of $500,000 dollars. "I felt like what I was asking, at that time of my career, was fair to the ticket sales that I would contribute to this big film," Henson said on an episode of InStyle's Ladies First with Laura Brown. "[The studio] wouldn't do it... I was gutted." Instead, the Baby Boy actress only made $100,000 from the award-winning film. However, after paying taxes and her team, Henson was only left with $40,000, per Revolt.

Although she got the success she wanted, the Empire star revealed wouldn't see her first million-dollar check until she worked with Tyler Perry. Henson landed a lead role in Perry's 2009 film adaptation of his stage play, I Can Do Bad All By Myself. In Henson's memoir, Around The Way Girl, she thanked Perry for generously paying her what she deserved. "I'm grateful to Tyler for putting me on the road to being paid my worth," she wrote, per Indie Wire. "It was he who gave me a fair wage to star in his movie, which ultimately raised my quote ... It was because of him — not an Oscar nomination — that I never had to take another movie project at the rock bottom of six figures."