Djimon Hounsou has revealed in an interview with The Guardian that after three decades of working in the industry, he feels cheated by Hollywood for what he describes as poor pay and a lack of respect.
“I’m still struggling to try to make a dollar!” Hounsou, 58, said. “I’ve come up in the business with some people who are well off and have very little of my accolades. So I feel cheated, tremendously cheated, in terms of finances and the workload as well.”
Djimon, who became the first Black African actor to be nominated for an Academy award, continued, discussing moments he was snubbed in favor of his white counterparts.
Two examples, in particular, include his critically acclaimed performances in Amistad and Blood Diamond which were overlooked in favor of Anthony Hopkins and Leonardo DiCaprio, respectively.
“I still have to prove why I need to get paid,” he continued. “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 think you can bring so much’… Film after film, it’s a struggle. I have yet to meet the film that paid me fairly. I felt seriously cheated.”
“Today, we talk so much about the Oscars being so white, but I remember there was a time [when] I had no support at all: no support from my own people, no support from the media, from the industry itself. It felt like: ‘You should be happy that you’ve got nominated,’ and that’s that.”
However, he presents an optimistic perspective regarding acting as he looks to his most recent movie in DC/Warner Bros.’ Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Djimon reveals that his role as Shazam, the Wizard, was expanded upon, with DC granting him the highest “level of respect” yet.
“Out of them all, the DC universe has a level of respect. There wasn’t much to the role at first, and I did it, and it was fun. But the second time around, it was a little more respectful.”
“From time to time, [Hollywood] themselves make a point of saying: ‘We should give him more, he’s a little under-appreciated.’ I think they recognize that themselves,” the thespian concluded. “Hey, it’s the struggle I have to overcome!”