Djimon Hounsou, the 58-year-old Beninese-American actor known for his powerful performances in films such as Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amistad’ and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has expressed his frustration with Hollywood, claiming that he feels “cheated” by the industry. Despite his impressive career and multiple award nominations, including two for the prestigious Academy Award, Hounsou still struggles to make money and find the recognition he deserves.
In an interview with The Guardian, Hounsou reflected on the lack of support he received during the height of the Oscars’ diversity controversy. “I felt seriously cheated. Today, we talk so much about the Oscars being so white, but I remember there was a time where I had no support at all: no support from my own people, no support from the media, from the industry itself,” he said. Hounsou believes that if his movies were released today, he would have already secured an Oscar win. However, he remains focused on financial stability, stating, “I’m still struggling to try to make a dollar!”
Throughout his career, Hounsou has received numerous accolades, including two Black Reel Awards and an NAACP Image Award. Yet, he feels others in the industry fare better financially despite lacking comparable accomplishments. He cited fellow star Viola Davis as an example: “I’ve come up in the business with some people who are absolutely well off and have very little of my accolades.”
Hounsou went on to discuss the ongoing struggle for fair pay in Hollywood, even for those who have achieved significant success. “Viola Davis said it beautifully: she’s won an Oscar, she’s won an Emmy, she’s won a Tony [and, as of Feb. 5, a GRAMMY] 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,” he lamented.
However, the ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ star expressed gratitude for the respect he received while working in the DC universe. “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!” he shared.
Hounsou’s experience sheds light on the challenges faced by actors of color in Hollywood, who often struggle for recognition and fair compensation despite their talent and accomplishments. As the industry continues to evolve, it is crucial to address these disparities and ensure that all artists receive the respect and financial security they deserve.