Taraji P. Henson is opening up about her struggles with depression, anxiety and still fighting for equality when it comes to her pay.
The Oscar-nominated actress is profiled for Variety‘s Power of Women nominees for her work on the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. She started the foundation in 2018, naming it after father with the mission of challenging stigmas around depression in the African American community. The “Empire” actress shared how she dealt with mental health issues.
Henson said that she had a therapist and spoke to the professional regularly.
“You can talk to your friends, but you need a professional who can give you exercises. So that when you’re on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off that ledge and past your weakest moments,” she said.
“It’s a professional — someone who studies the human mind, and someone who has no stakes involved.”
Henson added that she had to keep going to various therapists until she found the right one. She likened it to a craft and being in a relationship.
“I’ve got to feel comfortable because that’s the only way I’m going to keep coming back to you. To keep dealing with this ugly stuff, I have to feel totally safe. I need to feel like even though I know we don’t have all day, you’ve got to make me feel like we have all day,” she said.
Henson told the publication that limiting her exposure to social media also helped with her mental well being. She noticed that the medium would impact her psyche negatively.
“It was affecting my mood. I’d wake up in a good mood and I’d see something on there. I can control that — just don’t look at it! Because that thing can depress you. It can knock you off your game,” she said.
Henson was also brutally honest about the disparity in her pay. She was paid less than her co-stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. Those stars were paid millions while her salary was reportedly $150,000 despite being the third-billed actor on the Oscar-nominated movie. Henson said that “fighting for her money” was still her biggest challenge in the industry. She would no longer bargain on her talent.
“I did a movie. I’m not going to say which studio. But they paid me more than my quote, and then they came back and offered me half of my quote. I said, “No. You know what I’m worth, and actually, I deserve a raise. I’m not doing it for that,’” she said.