Terrence Howard Sues Talent Agency Over ‘Empire’ Pay & Racism, Lawyer Claims Company ‘Had No Incentive’ To Fight For His Salary To Be ‘Comparable To Every Other Lead White Actor Out There’
Terrence Howard was reportedly underpaid for his work on “Empire.”
The actor has filed a lawsuit against CAA – Creative Artists Agency LLC – for an alleged conflict of interest in the company’s handling of his “Empire” salary. The 54-year-old entertainer starred on the Fox series for the entire duration of its 6 season run, from 2015 until 2020. “Empire” quickly became a huge hit and, at one point, was even one of the most-watched television shows on Fox. The series also earned several nominations and accolades, including a Television Critics Association Award for Program Of The Year following its premiere season.
However, despite the popularity of the program, Terrence Howard said his contract, which was reportedly negotiated by CAA, only afforded him $325,000 per episode “at the height” of his time on “Empire.”
“I was never given a producer credit even though I rewrote most of the scenes and acted in the capacity of producer.”
According to Terrence Howard, CAA never had his best interest at heart, as the agency also represented the show’s co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, as well as its production company, Imagine Entertainment. Allegedly, Howard was provided misinformation regarding the salaries of actors at his level of fame. His agents reportedly gave him false rates of his counterparts when he should have been compensated in the same ballpark as Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards” or Jon Hamm in “Mad Men.”
“I trusted CAA to look after me, and they looked after themselves.”
In addition, the lawsuit claimed the agency’s refusal to negotiate in the best interest of Howard was racially motivated. His legal team said,
“Discovery will show that this was racism. You won’t find in discovery that a white actor — Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-nominated — was treated like that.”
“CAA simply told Howard, ‘We’re not going to take the 10 percent agency fee this time because we packaged things together.’ In reality, it was a terrible thing because they had no incentive to fight for this man when he demanded to have his salary negotiated comparable to every other lead white actor out there.”
Howard’s attorneys also called out CAA, and other agencies, over packaging fees, which is when agents are paid directly by a studio for attaching stars to a writer’s pitch. They expressed,
“Over the last several years, agencies have become much more powerful and found a much more lucrative way of making money. It’s by being the packaging agent, where you represent actors, producers, production companies and your own financial interest. That’s where that fiduciary duty begins to break down. That’s why we’re here today.”
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