As if black women didn’t have it hard enough.
Imagine playing a major part in the success of a powerful entertainment media brand to later find out you’re being paid far less than someone more than half your age.
That’s the story of Danielle Brooks, the breakout actress from Netflix’s breakthrough drama Orange Is The New Black.
During a recent interview, the multi-hyphenated Julliard School alum kept it really real about one her biggest money mistakes in her burgeoning career.
“When you come to find out the Stranger Things kids are making more than you are in your final season, that’s heartbreaking,” Brooks revealed to CNBC about the streaming platform’s popular, teen-based drama.
“A part of me feels like it’s a little bit of my fault because I should have fought more, I should have put my foot down,” she added.
While it isn’t known how much the actress was making near the end of the series, CNBC pointed out that the lead child actors of Stranger Things were taking home $200,000 an episode during their third season.
In a previous interview with The Hollywood Reporter near Orange’s end in 2019, Brooks — who gained popularity from her rambunctious character, Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, on the Jenji Kohan-created series —revealed that during the first season she made $5,000 an episode.
At the time, the coinage was a big deal for the North Augusta, South Carolina native.
“I had done 10 episodes and made the most money I had ever made,” Brooks said. “We got a bump in the middle of shooting season one. I first started making minimum, which is a little less than $1,000 an episode, and I was making $5,000 an episode that first season. At the time, that was everything to me.”
But as they say 20/20 is hindsight.
The new mom has regrets about that and now realizes the importance of going after her worth from the experience.
“As a woman, I wish I would have stood by what numbers I wanted from jobs, and not fluctuated,” she shared.
Stranger Things, created by The Duffer Brothers, premiered on Netflix since 2016.
But all is not lost for Brooks, who – thanks to the success of the show – has become an in-demand celebrity notable.
In 2015, she made her Broadway debut in Scott Sanders and Carol Fineman’s revival of The Color Purple. Her acclaimed portrayal of Miss Sofia earned her a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, and Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Other roles included the acclaimed prison drama Clemency, Master of None and HBO’s Girls.
In 2017, the body positivity icon launched an exclusive clothing collaboration with Universal Standard, a direct-to-consumer brand that offers items from sizes 10 to 28.
In 2019, Brooks won raves for her leading role in Kenny Leon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and released her debut EP, Four, which yielded the empowering single “Black Woman.”
In November, The Root’s very own Maiysha Kai reported that she curated a line of mom-friendly wear with size-inclusive bran.
So financially, she’s doing alright.
The finance outlet reported that Brooks bought her first home in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York.
Though it could be tempting to buy some of the trappings that being a celebrity can afford, Brooks said she’s focusing on building a home, saving and investing for her next goal.
“I don’t try to keep up with the Jonses,” she says. “I try to keep up with the Brookses.”