Despite being very successful, figures in Black Hollywood like Taraji P. Henson (pictured) have not gotten to where they are without experiencing firsthand racism in the thriving social institution they are a part of.
Many institutionalized barriers still exist today, such as the wide pay gap between black and white actors and actresses in television. It’s accurate to say that the sensationalized social institution of entertainment has its fair share of challenges for black people who are trying to blaze their trails toward fortune and fame.
Henson wrote about her early life and professional struggles with racism throughout her acting career in a memoir (with Denene Millner) titled “Around the Way Girl,” which was released this week by Atria/37 Ink. One of the situations Henson shares in her book is not being chosen for a role in the 2014 film “St. Vincent.”
Henson lost out on playing a character that was later named Daka Paramova. Theodore Melfi, the film’s director, producer, and screenwriter specifically wrote Daka Paramova’s script for Henson. However, a white actress named Naomi Watts was given the role instead. This was devastating for Henson, according to what she writes in her book.
“It was a meaty gig. I would have loved it. Alas, I couldn’t get served at that particular restaurant…Time and again, I’ve lost roles because someone with the ability to green-light a film couldn’t see black women beyond a very limited purview he or she thought ‘fit’ audience expectations,” Henson wrote in her memoir.
Henson also talks about her even more personal childhood experiences while being raised by her parents over the course of their abusive relationship.
“I was much too young to understand the dynamics of my parents’ relationship-that my mother was running for her life after [my father]lost his temper one too many times and hit her,” Henson also wrote.
Henson’s memoir “Around the Way Girl” can be purchased today by clicking here.