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Taraji P. Henson Fought for Drivers to Take ‘The Color Purple’ Cast to Set : ‘They Gave Us Rental Cars’

Taraji P Henson Fought for Drivers to Take The Color Purple Cast to Set
Taraji P. Henson Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Taraji P. Henson opened up about some challenges the cast faced while filming The Color Purple — and how she had to push back.

“They gave us rental cars, and I was like, ‘I can’t drive myself to set in Atlanta.’ This is insurance liability, it’s dangerous,” Henson, 53, shared with The New York Times in an interview published on Friday, January 5. “Now they robbing people. What do I look like, taking myself to work by myself in a rental car?”

Henson — who stars as Shug Avery in The Color Purple — went on to share that she had to ask to get a “driver or security” to take her to set.

“I’m not asking for the moon,” she told the outlet. “They’re like, ‘Well, if we do it for you, we got to do it for everybody.’ Well, do it for everybody! It’s stuff like that, stuff I shouldn’t have to fight for.

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Danielle Brooks, who portrays Sofia in the 2023 musical, previously shared that Henson argued with producers to let the cast have their own dressing rooms and food provided to them.

“I remember when we first came and we’re doing rehearsals, they put us all in the same space,” Brooks, 34, said in a Friday, January 5 Q&A presented by The Hollywood Reporter. “We didn’t have our own dressing rooms at the time. We didn’t have our own food … [Taraji] was our voice. This was my first studio film. Sometimes you do come in saying, ‘OK, I’ll take whatever they give me. I’m just happy to be here.’ But [Taraji] spoke up for us. You showed me how to do that.”

Taraji P Henson Fought for Drivers to Take The Color Purple Cast to Set
Fantasia Barrino as Celie and Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery in “The Color Purple” Warner Bros. Entertainment

The Color Purple wasn’t the first time Henson found herself speaking up for proper treatment on set. During her time on Fox’s Empire from 2015 to 2020, Henson claimed she had to fight for better accommodations between scenes.

“I was on the set of Empire fighting for trailers that wasn’t infested with bugs,” she explained while speaking to The New York Times. “It wears on your soul because you fight so hard to establish a name for yourself and be respected in this town to no avail.”

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While Henson has been a champion for all her fellow castmates on set, she’s also been candid about the pay discrepancies that exist in Hollywood. Last month, she discussed nearly passing on The Color Purple due to lack of pay and being forced to audition for the role despite being the director’s top choice.

“I’m just tired of working os hard, being gracious at what I do [and] getting paid a fraction of the cost,” she shared during a SiriusXM interview in December 2023. “I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over … 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, and I’m tired. I’m tired. It wears on you. What does that mean? What is that telling me? If I can’t fight for them coming up behind me then what the f–k am I doing?”

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