Terrence Howard claims he should have received a higher salary from Fox’s series “Empire.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the actor, who portrayed Lucious Lyon on the television drama, filed a lawsuit against the Creative Artists Agency on Dec. 8, 2023, because he claimed he was encouraged to accept a lower salary than the industry standard while under its representation throughout the show’s duration.
The lawsuit states the Creative Artists Agency “placed their interests and the interests of their other clients above” his. It also mentions that the agency was “urging him to accept talent fees that were far less than what he should have been afforded,” per the outlet.
Howard said that he had believed his agents’ “representations that these salaries were industry standard.” However, he recently found discrepancies that validated he was “entitled to a much higher salary given the success of the show.”
During a press conference, he said, according to the Los Angeles Times, “We expect our agents and our lawyers to look after us, and therefore we’re free to do all of the work that you guys enjoy so much. I trusted CAA to look after me, and they looked after themselves.”
Howard also hinted at a “racial issue” when comparing his compensation to his white peers, Rolling Stone reports. He stated that the show drew in similar ratings to the “Big Bang Theory.” However, he still earned less than the show’s lead, Jim Parsons.
“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,” he told the outlet.
He added, “I drank the Kool-Aid. I believed that I was going to get paid, or that I was getting compensated properly, but I wasn’t. I just didn’t want to pi-s off CAA and Fox. They’re big companies to go to war against. But sooner or later you’ve got to stand up, because they’re just trampling over the rights of the artists.”
Team members of Howard stated he received between 30% to 50% less compensation per episode on the hit series. They have not yet come to a clear understanding on exactly how much Howard is due.
Rolling Stone reported that Howard’s salary began at $125,000, and he received up to $325,000 per episode during the show’s final season, which ended in 2020.