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If you hadn’t noticed over the last year, Taraji P. Henson has ‘arrived’. Well she’s already been here, because when haven’t we noticed, it’s the others that are just recently giving her cred since staring as ‘Cookie’ on Empire.

Henson covers this month’s W magazine and is paying homage to one of her idols, Diana Ross.


In the cover story interview, Henson writes about how she nearly turned down the role on Empire, because she thought the series would be stupid.

Here are a few highlights from the interview.

On playing Cookie Lyon: “Not only would I never be offered a character like Cookie in a movie, but she doesn’t exist. Cookie is bold and crazy, and she loves the struggle. She started from nothing, and now she’s at the top. In that way, we’re alike: Cookie is the American Dream.”

On why people love the character: “They see her heart. They see her intentions. And they love her style — her style is 17 years behind the fashion curve, which makes the clothes a character on the show. As Cookie grows, you’ll see her fashion grow. And people love that — she’s a work in progress. The only thing that never changes is her spirit: to me, Cookie is living, breathing, walking truth.”

On initially rejecting the role: “I was like, ‘This is stupid.’ Hip-hop — dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. But then I started to think, Cookie is going to piss so many people off! She hits her son with a broom; she talks back. Clearly, this was a challenge.”

On the criticism she’s gotten: “When I hear that Cookie is a bad representation of black women, I don’t get involved. Maybe Cookie makes you uncomfortable because she reminds you of yourself. People miss the bigger picture when they start judging.”

On moving to Los Angeles while her son was still a toddler to pursue acting: “It was a struggle. But my son grew as my career grew. I never had a nanny — I did TV so I could be home with him. I wasn’t making my millions, but I was able to fulfill my dreams and be a mother.”


On auditioning for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: “I didn’t take it seriously. I mean, they had Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt — why would they want me? I thought it was a runaround, and I decided to hold an epic garage sale that day instead. I had mannequins. I had glasses with wig heads. I had champagne ready. And then my agent called and said, ‘Shut that garage door! Fincher wants to see you.'”


On losing the Academy Award for best supporting actress: “I lost, but it was the best time of my life. Brad and Angelina rushed up to me and said, ‘Are you okay?’ I was like, ‘Yes! Can I get some more wine?!’ They were more concerned about my name not being called than I was.”

Image Credits: W Magazine

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