Shazam! Fury of the Gods actor Djimon Hounsou opened up about discrimination, particularly the pay inequality he faced during his successful career.
Speaking to The Guardian, the actor said, “I’ve come up in the business with some people who are absolutely well-off and have very little of my accolades,” adding, “So I feel cheated, tremendously cheated, in terms of finances and in terms of the workload as well.”
Hounsou continued, “I’ve gone to studios for meetings, and they’re like: ‘Wow, we felt like you just got off the boat and then went back [post-Amistad, his breakout movie with Steven Spielberg]. We didn’t know you were here as a true actor. When you hear things like that, you can see that some people’s vision of you, or what you represent, is very limiting. But it is what it is. It’s up to me to redeem that.”
The 58-year-old added, “I still have to prove why I need to get paid. They always come at me with a complete low ball: ‘We only have this much for the role, but we love you so much and we really think you can bring so much.
Viola Davis said it beautifully: she’s won an Oscar, she’s won an Emmy, she’s won a Tony and she still can’t get paid. Film after film, it’s a struggle. I have yet to meet the film that paid me fairly.”
Hounsou won two Oscars nominations for Best Supporting Actor—one for In America in 2002 and another for the 2006 thriller Blood Diamond.