If there is anyone that fights for their rights and gets not only what they want, but what they deserve, then Taraji P Henson is that person. She has been on the scene for over a decade and we first fell in love with her acting in the blockbuster hit, Baby Boy. Her acting was just so real and she made you really connect with her character. After that, we seen a lot more of Ms. Henson.
After completing a dozen projects, Taraji P Henson started to fight to get paid what she deserved.
“Hollywood can be cheap. They love a great performance at a discount price … IF they can get it,” she says. “I always seemed to get respect, as far as work [went]. I just needed to get my money.”
The shift she saw came when she first collaborated with writer-producer-director Tyler Perry, on “The Family That Preys.”
Henson was just coming off “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” when she initially started talking with Perry about the project and, when she told him she didn’t get paid exactly what she hoped for on “Benjamin Button,” he told her what to go for and became “the first person to pay me what I thought I deserved at the time,” Henson says. The two went on to work together two more times, for 2009’s “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” and 2018’s “Acrimony.”
“Now I’ve proven my worth, so I say no a lot. You want a discount price? Get a discount actress,” she says.
This morning, Ms. Henson finally received her star! Although she has received critical praise and awards recognition (including an Academy Award nomination, three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win) throughout the years, this is special to her in a different way.
A large part of Henson’s audience comes from Fox’s musical family drama “Empire,” in which she plays the instantly memorable Cookie Lyon, the matriarch of a dysfunctional family-owned entertainment company. The show premiered in 2015 to the tune of almost 10 million total live viewers and then consistently grew its audience every subsequent week of the first season. A large part of that success was Henson herself, who contributed some of the most quotable lines in early episodes, which led to the show and the character trending on social media.
In an age when network series often struggled to break into the zeitgeist, “Empire” was everywhere and Henson “felt like a rock star,” she says.
The initial success also led to international recognition — something Henson had been previously told was not feasible due to her skin color.
“I’ve been told my entire career [that] black culture and black projects don’t sell well overseas,” she says. “Then, all of a sudden, it’s a major hit [there] because people started streaming it illegally; the people forced Fox to sell it abroad. That blew me away.”
While Henson is not one to shy away from sharing parts of her life on her own social media, she shares she often has to “prepare” herself when she goes on Instagram because she never knows if the comments will be good or bad. And then there are the other cameras that get pulled out when people see her out and about that have taken some getting used to.
But Henson is finding light in her upcoming work. In addition to a long-gestating film about Emmett Till, she says she is “milliseconds” away from being set at her next hiatus project and she has a newfound love for voice-over roles following her turn in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
“I was an only child and all I had was my imagination,” she says. “That’s what you need when you’re going into that studio; you don’t have another actor opposite you. It’s just you, a microphone and your imagination. … That’s where I thrive, because all of these years of playing by myself. I want to do so much more.”
And Henson also has high hopes that the Feb. 8 release of “What Men Want,” a remake of the 2000 film “What Women Want,” will mark a fresh turn in her career.