Whether you know her as the dysfunctional Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire or the loyal and misguided Yvette from Baby Boy, when you hear the name Taraji P. Henson you can’t help but think greatness.
Born and raised in Washington D.C, Henson was destined for stardom. Long before the oscar nominations and iconic movies, Henson was just an ordinary girl with humble beginnings. Raised by her mother, father and grandmother Henson often speaks on the influence they have had on her life and career and on her deep connection to her family.
Before she took her talents to California to follow her dreams, Henson attended the illustrious Howard University in which she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. But, that degree came at a cost, a cost of infinite hard work and dedication. Henson worked 2 jobs in order to pay tuition, one as a secretary at the Pentagon in the morning and the other as a singing waitress on a dinner cruise ship at night. But if that wasn’t enough to keep anyone stressed and insanely busy, Henson soon embarked on a new journey into motherhood, once she became pregnant with her only son Marcel, during her junior year.
While some would have given up, the resilience of Henson is not one to be questioned. After giving birth to her son, Henson not only graduated college but entered the workforce soon after. Not happy with her everyday life, she knew she wasn’t following her passion of acting and her father persuaded her to take that leap to L.A. “You can’t catch fish on dry land” he would say, implying to go where the jobs were, which happened to be in California. Soon after she risked it all with $700 in her pocket and her son by her side and moved to L.A to follow her dreams.
Her first few roles as television extras ultimately earned her a SAG card, and soon television credits of Sister Sister and Smart Guy. After years of the constant grind of a being a black actress trying to make it in hollywood, Henson would get her first prominent role not until 2001, in John Singleton’s comedy-drama Baby Boy. Still a legendary character in the African American community till this day, Henson has gone on to play more icons throughout the years. From The Karate Kid, Think Like A Man, Hidden Figures, I Can Do Bad All By Myself or oscar nominated The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button in which she plays Brad Pitt’s mother, Henson has shown us she can portray just about anyone, and her talent as an actress speaks for itself.
Throughout all her success, a Golden Globe, and NAACP Award, Henson has remained humbled throughout this entire experience and calls her now adult son her greatest joy of it all. Henson is an icon in television and movies to the say the least, and her success is nowhere near over. Henson continues to wow us on our television screens and we should all be prepared for what she has in store. You can catch Taraji P. Henson on Fox’s Empire as Ms. Cookie Lyons and you can also catch Henson on the big screen all 2018, starring in 4 new movies debuting this year.
Taraji P. Henson is proof that hard work, dedication and faith creates success and that is not to be debated.