Actress Taraji P. Henson has definitely been on her grind. The alluring 44-year-old barged her way into Hollywood back in 2001 as the vehement yet soft Yvette in the John Singleton-produced urban flick Baby Boy. Since then, the D.C. native has conquered roles in a slew of movies like Hustle & Flow, Think Like A Man, Think Like A Man Too, Smoking Aces and No Good Deed, to name a few. Now Henson’s back as the aggressive and tantalizing Cookie on Fox’s Empire.
Empire has garnered over 4 millions viewers and is prepping for season two. Henson sat with Uptown magazine to discuss race, why she’s sending her son to a HBCU, and the backlash that Empire has been receiving. Check out excerpts from the piece below.
On the Backlash Empire has received from calling President Obama a sell-out:
“I’m just proud that people are talking. Everybody don’t like Barack Obama,” she says, referencing the second episode of the season where her on-screen son, Hakeem (Gray) slams the POTUS, calling him a sellout. “People are out there saying that. That’s what art is supposed to do: expose this shit. You know, we’re dealing with subject matter that’s not really dealt with. Art is supposed to challenge, start a conversation, so let’s lift the carpet up and deal with this dirt. It’s not like we bashed Barack Obama and the show went off. No, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) jumped in his [son’s] ass. That’s real life stuff. So I’m glad you’re mad. Do something about it. Go in the hood and talk to the kids so they don’t do dumb stuff like that.”
On her name ringing bells in the industry:
“Right now, the hype is great. I hope that now, because of my name, people are starting to connect the dots. But for me, it’s not about awards because that’s so political, so finicky. Yes, having that beautiful trophy is a great accomplishment, but that doesn’t alter how I’m gonna move in this industry. I just put my knuckles to the wall and I work.”
On her son’s run-in with police and why she’s sending him to Howard University:
“My child has been racially profiled. He was in Glendale, California and did exactly everything the cops told him to do, including letting them illegally search his car. It was bogus because they didn’t give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for. Then he’s at University of Southern California, the school that I was going to transfer him to, when police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets. So guess where he’s going? Howard University. I’m not paying $50K so I can’t sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus.” Though sleep doesn’t always come easy when it pertains to her son, other parts of Taraji’s wheelhouse are pretty clear of disturbances to her energy. Her off days are spent in her Los Angeles abode letting her hair down and nurturing her passion projects, including a Civil Rights movement film. “We just sent the script to George Clooney. He’s looking for more endearing, emotionally moving projects to direct so we sent it to him. That’s what I’m really focusing on right now on my off time.”
Read the entire Uptown interview here.