Fortune Cookie: Taraji P. Henson On Building Your Own Empire

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Taraji P. Henson has been racking up Nielsen ratings as the vivacious Cookie Lyon on Fox’s hip-hop musical/drama Empire. Keeping timelines on tilt every Wednesday night, Lucious’ on-screen ex gives life with quotables like, “The streets ain’t made for everyone. That’s why they made sidewalks.”

Still, her spunk and realness has been a cinema magnet for over a decade. Appearing in films like 2001’s Baby Boy, 2005’s Hustle & Flow, 2012’s Think Like A Man and her Oscar-nominated role in 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it’s clear she does bad (meaning great) all by herself.

The single mother of one recently took a break from her hectic taping schedule to CC: VIBE on some words of wisdom about balancing work and life, her favorite stress-reliever and (of course) creating your own empire in honor of Women’s History Month.

My position in one sentence:
I am an actor, who brings characters to life with honesty and a hope they can shed light on the understanding of others.

The moment I knew acting would be my calling:
Somehow I guess I always knew I wanted to be an actress but my dad kept me on track and never let me give up.

Best advice to mothers trying to balance work and life:
Always remember you are a mother first.

Biggest (professional) regret:
I’m the eternal optimist. Everything happens for a reason. Don’t live with regrets.

A female mentor that pushed me to succeed:
After my mother, Bernice, saw my first play, she became my true champion. My theatrical inspiration is Bette Davis.

How to shake feelings of failure:
See answer for [biggest (professional) regret]. We all have bad days or we wouldn’t be human. Pick yourself up and keep going.

How to handle men who don’t recognize your worth:
I give men and everyone a second chance but I don’t waste my time if I am not respected and allowed to be me.

My favorite stress-reliever:
Sitting on my patio and looking at the lights of Los Angeles or relax in my new jacuzzi/spa with friends and a glass of wine. Laughing is the best stress reliever.

The key to creating a strong and successful empire:
Stay positive, know what is important in life, surround yourself with people who understand you and bring you joy. Become educated about how to achieve your dream. And never forget to dream!

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