Taraji P. Henson Says Oprah Has Been 'Solid Beacon of Light' After Expressing Frustration With Pay Inequality

Henson gave Oprah Winfrey a note of gratitude on Instagram ahead of 'The Color Purple' theatrical release.

Arturo Holmes / The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images

Taraji P. Henson rebukes any rumors of a behind-the-scenes beef with Oprah Winfrey over The Color Purple.

On Dec. 12, the film's cast and crew, including Henson, Winfrey, Danielle Brooks, Fantasia Barrino, and director Blitz Bazawule were in New York City to light the Empire State Building purple. On Thursday, Henson went to Instagram with a candid photo taken with Winfrey during the event, also sharing a statement that refuted any allegations of the two having a rift.

"It is so important for black women and ALL women of color to support each other," Henson began the caption. "It is also imperative to have women of color in decision making positions across ALL industries."

Thanking fans for supporting her message about being unvalued as a Black actress with "compassion, understanding and support," Henson went on to directly thank Winfrey.

"Ms. OPRAH has been nothing less than a steady and solid beacon of light to ALL OF THE CAST of The Color Purple!!!" Henson continued. "She has provided ENCOURAGEMENT, GUIDANCE and UNWAVERING SUPPORT to us all."

Henson added, "She told me personally to reach out to her for ANYTHING I needed, and I did! It took ONE CALL… ONE CONVERSATION… and ONE DECISION MAKING BLACK WOMAN to make me feel heard."


Oprah Winfrey and The Color Purple stars at the @Empire State Building 🥰💜 #oprahwinfrey #esb #empirestatebuilding #oprah #winfrey #thecolorpurple #purple #nyc #newyork

♬ original sound - New York Mickey

Although Henson, who plays Shug Avery in the musical film adaptation of The Color Purple, didn't specify the conversation that was had with Winfrey, it may have to do with producers originally wanting Beyoncé or Rihanna to play the character.

"To be completely honest about it, if you were doing this film for $30 or $40 million, the interest in the cast would be very different," Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter. "Once the film moved to $90 to $100 million, then everybody wants us to bring Beyoncé. 'Can you get Beyoncé or can you get Rihanna?' So we're sitting in a room saying, 'Listen, we love Beyoncé. We love Rihanna, but there are other actors who can do this job.'"

Henson's has been more forthcoming with her grievances with Hollywood's treatment of Black women, namely, being overworked for low pay and not receiving commercial endorsements for playing Cookie Lyon on the former musical drama Empire.


— Welington (@WelingtonOnAir) December 20, 2023
Twitter: @WelingtonOnAir

Latest in Pop Culture