September 11, 1970– Taraji P. Henson:
“In an industry where you’re never enough… you’re not pretty enough, you’re not tall enough, you’re not thin enough, you’re too black, you’re not black enough, finally, we were more than enough. Thank God.”
She brings back old-style glamour back to Hollywood. She always looks stunning at every award show, and she is at all of them, it seems, nominated or presenting. She is also a longtime, outspoken supporter of LGBTQ Rights. How much do we love this talented woman?
A Golden Globe winner last year for Empire, has stated that she has no time for the small vocal minority who criticize Empire for having “too much gay shit” in the series’ storylines:
“We ignore that. That’s nonsense and that’s fear, so we understand where that’s coming from, so there’s nothing to comment on that. The numbers speak for themselves. People are dealing with this, it’s not a joke, that’s why it’s in the script. It’s not for show, it’s not for sensationalism. It’s because people are struggling with this. And that’s why we shed light on it. You can’t make everybody happy, we don’t try to. We just try to touch and affect lives and I think we have. We’re always going to have haters, so here’s to all my haters! I’ll send you cookies, thanks.”
Henson has shown her support for the LBGTQ community by posing for the NOH8 Campaign. NOH8 is a non-profit organization that promotes Marriage, Gender and Human Equality. Hansen:
“When we say ‘no’ to hate, we can say ‘yes’ to love and equality.”
Set in the modern world of the Hip Hop Music Scene, Empire is, at heart, an old-fashioned nighttime soap opera in the tradition of Dynasty (1981-89), but you’ve got to give the show props for taking on the big issues of Race and Homophobia in the Black Community in a new, unexpected way.
The show’s openly gay creator, Lee Daniels:
“A lot of people can be homophobic, I feel. The show opens you up. Music is universal. Not just from a racial perspective but also a sexual perspective.”
Empire has a story line about Jamal, played by the yummy Jussie Smollett, who struggles with pursuing a public career, pleasing his family and coming to terms with his gayness.
Henson starred in Hustle And Flow (2005) with her Empire costar Terrence Howard, winning a BET Award. She received an Academy Award nomination for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2010), three Emmy Award nominations, four Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, with one win last year for the terrific Hidden Figures. She is the first African-American to win a Critics Choice Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series.
Henson was born to a working-class family in Washington, D.C. She studied electrical engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, but after the first year, she transferred to Howard University, where she majored in Theater.
Henson was in her junior year at Howard when she found out she was pregnant. She not only decided to keep her baby, but Henson never missed rehearsals or performances. She asked her theater professors not to treat her any differently. During her second trimester, she played one of the leads in the musical Dreamgirls. After her son was born, she finished her degree while acting, singing and dancing in university productions…with her baby in tow.
In 1996, Henson and her son moved to L.A. to look for professional acting work. A year later, and almost broke, Henson finally booked her first professional acting gig, a recurring role on the WB television series Smart Guy which ran for three seasons. More television appearances followed, including Homicide: Life On The Streets and ER.
In 2001, Henson got a big break with a starring role in John Singleton’s film Baby Boy. That performance led to being cast as Shug in Hustle And Flow, where Henson sang It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp. The song, written by Three 6 Mafia won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Song, with Henson performing on the Oscar telecast.
She was astonishingly good as Brad Pitt’s character’s adoptive mother in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) earning both Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations. Henson has worked steadily ever since, including roles in Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys (2008) and I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009). She had recurring role on the television series Person Of Interest from 2011 to 2013, and plays opposite my boo Idris Elba in the thriller No Good Deed (2014), which debuted at Number One at the box-office.
In 2015, Henson returned to television in Empire, as the formidable Cookie Lyon, the ex-wife of music industry titan Lucious Lyon, played by her friend Terrence Howard. Henson’s Cookie was the true breakout character, noted for her cutting remarks and nutty fashions, and the show became one of the seasons biggest hits. When she won her Golden Globe for her work, while making ther way to the stage for her acceptance speech, Henson gave out cookies to her peers in the audience in honor of her character.
Last year, Time Magazine named Henson to their annual 100 Most Influential People In The World list, and she published a NY Times best-selling memoir, Around The Way Girl. It was quite a year for Hensen, she received rave reviews and that SAG Award for her starring role as real life Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures, about African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA for Project Mercury and other space programs during the 1960s. Johnson calculated the flight trajectories that made space flight possible. The film also features Octavia Spencer as NASA supervisor Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as engineer Mary Jackson.
Henson is a big supporter of People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA), appearing nude in one of their I’d Rather Be Naked Than Wear Fur campaigns. In another ad, Henson poses with her dog Uncle Willie. That ad’s copy states: “Chained dogs suffer day in and day out. They are cold, hungry, thirsty, vulnerable, and lonely. Keep them inside, where it’s safe and warm.”
Up next, Henson stars in the film Proud Mary as successful hitman, or hitwoman, I don’t know the proper gender-term. Maybe it should be HitX. Anyway, the new season of Empire starts September 21st.
Henson as Fashion Icon and Gay Icon, can you dig it?