Taraji P. Henson, who will probably be known as Cookie for years to come now, graces the cover of Uptown magazine's Hollywood issue where she dishes on her role as Cookie Lyon on Lee Daniel's hip hop drama on Fox 'Empire'.
In the article, Cookie takes over mostly but the bubbly DC native does offer us some classic Taraji even dishing on her life in Chicago with her cast mates.
“This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my career,” Taraji P. Henson says from her temporary residence in Chicago—the city where Hollywood mogul Lee Daniels tapes Fox Network’s new record-breaking series, Empire, which he created and brought to Henson. “The cast is family. Bryshere [Gray] is always over here rattling through my pots and Jussie [Smollett] came over here the other day and spilled red wine all over my area rug,” she laughs. “I wake up the next morning, come out here and Gabby had told him to put salt on it. Salt is everywhere!”
“I played a lot of characters that could’ve been borderline stereotypical women, but my job as an actress is to make the audience understand and empathize with the people. Cookie is a lot,” she says. “She wears me out but I know this woman. I’ve done my research inside and out. I took Cookie from Lee and made her my own.”
“My mother said she would be at the dinner table, you know, emotional over bills and stuff, and even as a young girl, I would come over to her and say, ‘Mommy, don’t cry. I’ma be really rich one day and be famous and take care of us.’ I just knew.”
While celebrating the variety of black talent currently on-screen, becoming distracted by her peers’ success, however, is not on Henson’s to-do list. With a tightknit, mega-watt circle that includes Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall and Sanaa Lathan, tunnel vision is imperative. “If you don’t stay in your lane and you start looking around, you’ll go crazy,” she says. “I use to have this crazy thing with Amy Adams, and I love Amy Adams. You see her [consistently] getting nominated, as she should, because Amy does good work. But, it’s like, ‘Well, I did good work too.’ But if you choose to stay in that place then you become miserable. It’s a pity party and nobody cares. I’m human, so I’ve done it. But I check that because it’s ego and it’s the devil.”
“This journey is not over,” she says with a bit of defiance in her voice. Empire was officially picked up for a second season and the future is sparkling bright for the rising star. “I’ve come a long way from ‘Aye, that’s that girl from Baby Boy’ to now people know how to pronounce my name. But I’m just scratching the surface. For whatever reason, God gave me this life, and I’m not gon’ fuck it up.”
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