If the lyrics to “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” sound familiar, then it’s likely because of its connection to the 2005 film “Hustle and Flow,” starring veteran actor Terrence Howard.

Critics and fans could argue that his portrayal in the Memphis, TN-based movie is one of Howard’s most recognizable roles. In it, he makes a solid effort to adapt to the culture and lingo of the mid-Southern city.

“My ability to connect with an audience, I feel, was born in Memphis with ‘Hustle & Flow’ and what we shot,” Howard said ahead of the 2023 premiere of “Showdown at the Grand,” per The Daily Memphian.

He continued, “Something about that city brings out the very best in me, and maybe it’s just because the city is no frills. It is what it is.”

While “Hustle and Flow” may be a high point in his career, it is not the peak. Howard has starred in several films and television shows, including the drama series “Empire” (2015) and movies such as “The Best Man” (1999) and “Iron Man” (2008).

The 54-year-old has built a credible acting career that will stand the test of time, leading to an estimated net worth of $4 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. However, Howard has been a strong advocate for pay equity in Hollywood.

According to Rolling Stone, Howard sued Creative Artists Agency (CAA), his former talent agency, for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud regarding a “lowball” salary for his role as Lucious Lyon on the Fox show “Empire.”

“I can’t say for certain this was a racial issue, but I can’t imagine another counterpart — a white counterpart — with the same accolades, name recognition, and numbers that I had, receiving the lowball pay that I was receiving,” Howard told the outlet at the time.

The previously mentioned lawsuit is not the first time Howard has called out the industry. In a previous report by AFROTECH™, Howard alleged that Paramount owes him about 20 years of residual income for the songs he performed in “Hustle and Flow.”

Not only is the Chicago, IL, native standing on business regarding what is owed to him but he has also rejected opportunities that do not align with his worth. In a separate piece from AFROTECH™, Howard shared that he dropped out of the “Iron Man” movie sequel because his salary was cut to only one-eighth of his originally negotiated pay.

Despite his challenges in the industry, Howard is working to ensure others have different experiences in Hollywood.

According to a press release, Howard launched the talent discovery platform Holly. The company aims to level the playing field for filmmakers, actors, and creatives — redistributing the power dynamics in Hollywood.

“Hollywood is in serious need of a shake-up, and Holly is the answer to a more collaborative environment where we partner with agencies, studios, and other industry players to provide more access for talent and more diverse content for viewers,” Howard stated in the announcement.

He concluded, “Today’s audiences are looking for stories and voices they can relate to, but traditional Hollywood systems typically overlook the talent that can bring those projects to life. Holly is the platform that can facilitate this change across the industry. Holly is LinkedIn meets Instagram for talent, empowering a vibrant community to discover and elevate the best artists regardless of geography, background, or socio-economic status.”