“Empire” Star Terrence Howard Sues Former Agency On Grounds Of Racist Bias And Underpayment

BY Edwin Lamptey December 12, 2023 1:52 PM EDT
Photo Source: Instagram/@theterrencehoward

Actor Terence Howard has cited a breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, and fraudulent representation against his former agency, CAA, and is consequently taking action against them.

In a press conference held on Friday, the actor accused the agency of prioritizing its interests over his and raised concerns about conflicts of interest in the industry.

He also shed light on the potential racial bias in compensation practices in the industry

According to Howard, he “trusted CAA to look after me, and they looked after themselves” and he “never received the compensation as a producer or any of those things that are immediately given or asked for by agents of white actors.”

People also alleges that CAA, while representing producers Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, failed to act in Howard’s best interest to secure a higher salary for his role on Fox’s “Empire.” The complainant contends that CAA served as the packaging agent for the project, waiving its standard 10 percent agency fee. 

Howard went ahead to say that the agency informed him that compensation would be “built into the project’s budget and paid separately.” Unfamiliar with packaging deals, the Hustle & Flow star believed his agents were acting in his best interests, unaware of conflicts of interest.

The complaint reveals Howard’s belief that CAA’s avoidance of “double dipping” on fees as the packaging agent was commendable; the practice of agencies receiving packaging fees has been banned since the Writers Guild of America’s efforts in 2020. 

Notwithstanding Howard’s initial trust in CAA, the lawsuit asserts that, over time, he discovered the agency prioritized its financial interests and those of the production companies it represented over his own.

Empire’s success, marked by critical acclaim and high ratings, did not translate into a proportionate increase in Howard’s salary, the stories say.

The complaint outlines that Howard was initially paid $125,000 per episode, as negotiated in the actor’s “pilot agreement” for his role in the hit television series. The pilot agreement also established an episodic fee schedule for several seasons if the series was picked up by the network.