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27 Sep

The Born Believer: Taraji P. Henson

Tariji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson The Optimist

As the solo child growing up in Southeast D.C. in the 80’s, Taraji P. Henson recalls  being an extreme optimist during rather challenging times the actress and her mom faced throughout her childhood. Fast forward 30- something years later, and that optimism has certainly served Henson well over her twenty year career. Whether you fell in love with her work back in 2001 seeing her rock her role in Baby Boy, a few years later in Hustle & Flow, or  in 2008 when she killed the role of Queenie; the foster-mother to backward aging Brad Pit in the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Her role as Queenie introduced Henson to the general market, and scored her an Oscar-nod. In 2010, she appeared in the Date Night and co-starred in the remake of The Karate Kid. In 2012, Henson was in the large ensemble cast film Think Like A Man and appeared again in the sequel. No matter what role or film you first became a Henson fan, the depth and breadth of her talent is magnetic; and she is well- deserving of the smashing success she has earned.

The ‘Lyon’ Empire

Named a Top 10 Television Program of the Year by the American Film Institute;  the powerful drama around  the Lyon family dynasty is set within the glamorous and sometimes treacherous world of the hip-hop music industry. Each week drama revolves around the Lyon family and their mogul media company, Empire Entertainment. The founder, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), is the king of hip-hop, but his company and reign are constantly threatened by his family, including his ex-wife, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson); his sons, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), Hakeem (Bryshere “Yazz” Gray) and Andre (Trai Byers); and a hectic and hyper-competitive music industry.

The hype returns in Season Three, as the battle continues for the heart of the empire. I  know, I’m certainly eager to see how the individuals in the Lyon’s squad deal with the events that transpired during the Season Two finale.

Taraji P. Henson Switch Gears

After a small stint at North Caroling A&T  in the engineering program, Taraji P. Henson realized engineering wasn’t for her.  She relocated back home to D.C. and pursued acting at Howard University. Today Henson is one of television’s most captivating, alluring and over-the top divas as she nail her role as Cookie Lyon episode after episode on Fox’s intense Empire. Week after week, you can’t deny Cookie Lyon. She unapologetically commands attention.  On average 17.7 million people per week are glued to their screens to watch the drama unravel. According to Fox.com there has been 36.7 billion minutes of Empire watching across all media platforms! For her role as Cookie Lyon, Henson won the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series- Drama.  In July she was nominated for an Emmy Award, for the consecutive year in a row for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Whoa,  I’m so impressed by, and  happy for Henson who continues to work hard, perfect her craft, and remain grounded at the height of super stardom. With no uncertain terms Henson is here and she’s here to stay. Her talent lends her the opportunity to be cast in anything from a hood classic, to an All-American girl next door, but her depth and dimension lends themselves best to roles that allow her to lose herself and fans alike in them.


Taraji P. Henson


Taraji P. Henson Was Destined To Become Who She Wanted To Be

In an interview with ELLE earlier this year Taraji P. Henson shared, “As a girl from the hood, I was always fighting statistics, but after that, I was one. I’m not married, I’m black, I’m a single mother. There’s this fight inside me where it’s like, I will not fall for what society was saying that I was, given where I came from. I will rise above.” She has proven over and over again that she doesn’t just play roles, she channels characters and there’s an unmistakable difference. And yes, Empire, the cultural phenomenon, has a team of 15 incredibly talented and diverse writers, and while it’s co-creator Lee Daniels is arguably one of the best inclusive creators in Hollywood. Taraji’s depiction of Cookie Lyon in her head-to-toe leopard prints and snappy catch phrases has certainly evolved the paradigm of television.  I couldn’t be happier or prouder of Taraji’s  long and steady climb to the top. She’s inspirational in everything I’ve read, seen and heard about this brandista and her  personal brand.  Taraji P. Henson certainly energizes me to keep working, dreaming, reaching and moving to new heights. Certainly there’s a little Cookie Lyon in many of us, and I ain’t sorry.

What’s your favorite Tariji P. Henson role?

Courtney Rhodes

Courtney R. Rhodes is an author, brand building and marketing strategist, and speaker with a passion for style, traveling, and sharing interesting and informative content. She is founder of The Brandista Guide + www.CourtneyRRhodes.com; a volunteer for women development and empowerment initiatives and a student of the arts, humanities, and the pursuit of happiness. Courtney is a graduate of Morgan State University ('98) and The University of Baltimore M.A. ('03).

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