Terrence Howard Says CAA Owes Him $120 Million in ‘Empire’ Pay Dispute: ‘I Want My Money’

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 6, 2015: Terrence Howard at the premiere of Fox's new TV series "Empire" at the Cinerama Dome, Hollywood. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Terrence Howard refuses to “be quiet” about the money he says Creative Artists Agency (CAA) owes him for alleged conflict of interest, while negotiating his salary on Empire — which he says was lower than what “white counterparts” in television were paid at the time.

Howard sat down for a recent interview with the “Straight Talk” YouTube channel and discussed his lawsuit against CAA.

In the video posted March 30, the actor told host Daphne “Phanee” Wynn that he’s still battling the agency in court over the contract his former agents negotiated for his role as music mogul Lucious Lyon on Empire, which ended its run on Fox in 2020.

“I want my money,” the actor said. Howard filed a lawsuit against the powerful CAA in December 2023, as previously reported.

In his interview with “Straight Talk,” he put a dollar figure on the amount he says he’s owed for the six seasons he starred on the hit drama series. “They owe me over $120 million based on what would have been paid to white counterparts,” Howard said.

Related StoryTerrence Howard Hires High-Powered LA Attorneys for Lawsuit Over ‘Empire’ Salary

The actor and his current reps based that figure on the $325,000 per episode he received during the final season of Empire, compared to the pay the cast of CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory received.

Howard told “Straight Talk” the white actors on the comedy series were paid $2 million to $3 million per episode, although Forbes reported in 2017 that the actors received $1 million per episode on The Big Bang Theory, plus additional compensation on the backend.

Howard is seeking additional compensation for his six-season run on Empire.

The actor said in the interview that CAA also represented some of the actors on The Big Bang Theory.

“How do you negotiate $2 million for a white cat and negotiate $325,000 for a black cat?” he said.

Howard’s lawsuit accused his former agents of self-dealing because they represented Empire co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, as well as the show’s producers at Imagine Entertainment, while also representing him. The practice of representing producers or directors, and talent on the same project is known as “bundling” or “packaging” in Hollywood.

The actor insists he wasn’t aware of everything that was going on behind the scenes with his agents and the producers of Empire.

“Every year I’m asking my agents, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’ I didn’t know that with the packaging deal, my agents were incentivized to keep my pay low,” Howard alleged.

The actor added that when he spoke up about what he believes he’s owed, he was offered peanuts.

“When I asked them about my money, they sent me a check for $666… $666 exactly, not saying where it’s from. So I was like, ‘Oh you’re trying to threaten me, this is a threat. Y’all think I’m scared? You think I’m going to be quiet about this, because I wonder what you’re doing to every other Black artist.'”

Howard didn’t specify when he received the check.

CAA is seeking to have the case dismissed. In a February court filing, the agency’s lawyers argued that the statute of limitations had ended in the pay dispute.

“Howard was on actual notice of the facts underlying his claims … that CAA acted as packaging agent for Empire and was paid separately out of the show’s budget more than 10 years ago,” the agency’s attorneys stated in documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, as reported by City News Service.

“It would be highly prejudicial to CAA to require it to defend a deal that was negotiated a decade ago in February 2014,” the attorneys added.

The “Straight Talk” interview was recorded on the set of Peacock’s upcoming limited series Fight Night, which is why Howard was wearing a wig. The portion of the interview about CAA starts at the 1:07:00 mark in the video above.

Below is footage of Terrence Howard and his attorneys announcing their lawsuit and detailing the actor’s pay.

23 thoughts on “Terrence Howard Says CAA Owes Him $120 Million in ‘Empire’ Pay Dispute: ‘I Want My Money’

  1. “How do you negotiate $2 million for a white cat and negotiate $325,000 for a black cat?”

    Easy Terrance:
    Empire was not exactly pulling in Big Bang Theory numbers. Of course, this guy has literally disavowed math so I can’t take anything he says seriously.

    1. I never heard of this show, and this guy is just a random actor who has already failed out of a major franchise, basically a c-lister. Big Bang was the biggest and most consistent ratings show and on a major network.

      1. not a random actor- a fringe “mathematician” who is insane. look up his youtube “lectures”

      2. Yes, I was made aware of his “mathematics”. I think he needs a CAT scan to look for brain tumors.

  2. This is the same guy who was ordered to pay nearly a million bucks in back taxes that he said was owed to him for reparations.
    He’s as racist as they come.
    He caused so much trouble on the set of Iron Man that they recast his role and gave it to Don Cheadle.

  3. “Empire” wasn’t in the same league as “Big Bang Theory” ratings wise. And Howard has been a race batter and trouble maker everywhere he’s been. This is a nothing burger.

  4. All this lawsuit will do will make it harder for him to get hired in the future. This is not the first time he’s done something like this.

  5. He signed a contract and no doubt was paid exactly what the contract said he would be paid. If.he was to stupid to have his own lawyers review it first then that’s on him. If his lawyers did review it and told him it was a good deal, well then he needs to find better lawyers. Either way his signature represents a legal commitment on his part and his race has nothing to do with it. So unless he can prove s conspiracy to defraud he’s just going to have to live with it. My bet would be that he blew it all on drugs and hookers and he’s got no future jobs lined up so now he wants more money retroactively.

  6. Big bang theory in it’s final season had over 17 million viewers after 12 years. Empire didn’t even get 3 million after 5 years.

  7. I’ve never seen Empire. Not once. I saw entire seasons of Big Bang Theory. White people like watching whites, black people like watching blacks, brown and yellow people like watching theirs. Think Bruce Lee. What the actor doesn’t consider is the purchasing power of white America in comparison to black America. That’s where the advertisers make their money. I want him to talk about why he thinks one section of the community should subsidize the other.

    1. That’s what “equity” is, equal outcomes not based on merit. When you take it to full fruition then hamburger flippers should earn the same amount as a SpaceX rocket scientist. And it doesn’t matter if you’re terrible in your job, you deserve the same amount as the best worker. That welfare parasite or chronic felon? They deserve to live in the same quality of house and neighborhood as the hard working middle class. It’s Communism and it’s unaffordable and unsustainable.

  8. “Fox’s Empire easily topped with the list, with its $508,115 average cost for a primetime 30-second spot more than double the runner-up, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, which had an average cost of $249,161.”

  9. Howard should sue Fox as he has no career and will lose to CAA

    “…Empire costs about $3 million per episode to make. Fox commanded up to $750,000 per 30-second commercial for the show’s Season 2 premiere and thanks to Cookie Lyon, they sold fast. While Fox made $750,000 per 30-second spot for Empire’s premiere episode the company sold the remaining Season 2, 30-second spots for about $600,000 each.

    Fox also saved a substantial amount of money on the cast of Empire’s salaries. You would think the show has some of the highest paid actors in the industry yet Terrence Howard is only making $125,000 per episode. No one knew the show would be such a hit so they will have to renegotiate salaries considering the show’s success”.

  10. Maybe he should try what Juicy Smollet did. Oh wait, that didn’t work out too well, did it?

  11. “How do you negotiate $2 million for a white cat and negotiate $325,000 for a black cat?”

    That’s a good question for the black cat, Terrence.

  12. This is the privileged Biden Bizzaro World we are forced to currently live in. Trump in 2024!

  13. 2017 Viewership

    Big Bang Theory average : 13.999 Million Viewers
    Empire average : 0.73 Million Viewers

    Just for context – the Big Bang Theory actors should be clamoring for another $3 Million an episode for their “unjustifiably low” paychecks compared to what this guy was getting. It was obviously due to racial bias on the part of the money men.

Comments are closed.