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Terrence Howard Sues CAA Over Low Salary On 'Empire'

Well-renowned actor Terrence Howard claims he should have gotten paid more for his role in the Fox series Empire.


Terrence Howard

Howard, who played 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, according to the Los Angeles Times.


The lawsuit states the Creative Artists Agency “placed their interests and the interests of their other clients above his.” It also says that the agency was “urging him to accept talent feels that were far less than what they should have been afforded,” according to the outlet.


Howard said that he believed his agents’ “representations that these salaries were industry standard.” However, he found discrepancies that validated he was, in fact, “entitled to a much higher salary given the success of the show.”


“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 said at a press conference.


Howard also hinted at a “racial issue” when comparing his compensations to his white peers, according to Rolling Stone. He said that Empire drew similar ratings to The Big Bang Theory, but he still earned less than the show’s lead, who is 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 said to the outlet.


“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 Piss 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.”


Members of Howard’s team said he received between 30% to 50% less compensation per episode on the hit series. Still, there isn’t a clear understanding of exactly how much Howard is due.


Rolling Stone reported 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.

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