Taraji P. Henson BUILDING AN EMPIRE
With a busy movie career and a hit television series on the way, Taraji P. Henson knows how to make Hollywood sit up and take notice.
BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD
Taraji P. Henson
For many of us, our first memory of Taraji P. Henson was in the role of the unhappy girlfriend in the 2001 John Singleton film “Baby Boy,” and her career has been rocketing skyward ever since. Nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for her work opposite Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Henson has played a variety of roles over the last decade-plus — with parts in movies ranging from the Oscar-winning drama “Hustle and Flow” to both “Think Like a Man” comedies.
Next month, she will reunite with her “Hustle and Flow” co-star Terrence Howard in the Fox series “Empire,” which chronicles the family and business drama surrounding a music mogul in failing health. With the series debut nearing, Henson spoke exclusively to Las Vegas Black Image Magazine about her life onscreen and off.
You spent some working time in Las Vegas while filming “Think like A Man Too.”
Yes, it was great filming in Las Vegas — it really wasn’t like work, because I was with all my friends in the cast.
To what do you attribute all of your success?
For me, I love to work. I love to stay busy, and when work comes — I work.
Is there a role that you would like to play that you haven’t already played?
Yes, there are several. I would like to play an iconic figure and continue to be challenged in my acting.
Do you think you might start writing your own scripts for projects you would like to do?
I think I will probably produce instead. I am not a writer. I have been told that I should write, but I know my lane.
What do you pull from when you play a strong, tough character?
I am personally a really tough cookie. That is what it takes to survive, and it’s that killer instinct. I have that in me, and I am very competitive. I am a fighter, and if something goes down — if someone tried to kidnap me — it won’t be easy. I am a survivor, and I know how to survive no matter the circumstance.
What would be your message to other black women as it relates to being a survivor?
My message would be to rely on yourself. You can’t expect other people to be there for you mentally or physically. You have to take care of yourself. No one will know how to love you like you do. You also have to tell people what you like because no one can read your mind. You can’t expect so much of what you need to be happy from friends, parents, family and/or a lover. You have to know how to make yourself happy. If that means cutting certain people out of your life that do not bring you happiness, or eliminating certain habits, then it is up to you to make it happen. A lot of people scream “Victim!” or he did this and she did that to me. You have the choice to stay or walk away and make it better.
Why do you feel you are so admired by your fans?
Taraji P. Henson
I don’t know. I just know how to be me. People are always telling me, “You are so real,” and “You keep it real.” I really can’t say what it is.
How is your love life? Are you in a relationship?
No, not right now. I am dating, but nothing serious.
Is it hard to be in a loving relationship with your hectic career schedule?
If the person understands my career, it’s not a problem. For me it’s about meeting the right person, because you might not know someone’s true intentions.
We know that you are a single mom. How is your son?
He is doing great. He is in college and a 4.0 student. I did well at making a great contribution to society.
What do you do when you have time off from your acting career?
I always like to spend time with my son and my family. I also like to take a yearly girlfriend trip out of the country to places like the Virgin Islands.
Does it bother you to go outside the country with all of the war and terrorism going on in the world?
No, I don’t travel in fear. I stay away from problem areas when I travel, but I don’t live my life in fear.
Are the girlfriends you travel with also celebrities you have worked with?
No, the close friends I travel with are my lifelong girlfriends.
How do you stay so physically fit?
I have a trainer and take a lot of cardio classes. I do a variety of physical activities and try to stay active.
Do you have a special diet?
I try to stay away from foods with sugar in them, and foods that are high in carbs. I drink a lot of water and I juice. I watch what I eat, and everything is done in
What do you like to do that makes you happy?
I like to spend time with my son and my close girlfriends. They lift my spirit and know how to make me laugh. They bring me joy and so does my family. I also like to spend quiet time to reset.