The Beautiful Taraji P. Henson Covers Uptown Magazine

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Taraji P. Henson dishes on the hit show Empire, being an actress and her son being racially profiled in the new issue of Uptown. Speaking of Empire Miss Cookie Lyon was giving us body last night. I loved it. Peep the highlights and a few photos below.

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On “Empire” Being Stereotypical:

“I’m just proud that people are talking. Everybody don’t like Barack Obama (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 sh-t. 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 Cookie Lyon:

“Cookie is a lot. 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.”

On Her Envy for Other Actresses:

“I used to have this crazy thing with 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.”

On the Growing Roles for Black Actors on TV

“It feels good that there’s not just one black person. I don’t like that we get fixated on one or two at a time, or three at a time. If you look at Caucasian Hollywood, every year there’s a handful of new faces you’ve never seen before, then after that, they got five movies coming out and they’re introducing you to more talent. So I’m just so happy to see what’s happening on television right now. We have options and that’s how it should be.”

On Playing Stereotypical Female Characters

“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 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.”

On Her Future Success:

“The journey is not over. 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’ f-ck it up.”

On Being the Happiest in Her Career

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my career. 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. I wake up the next morning, come out here and Gabby had told him to put salt on it. Salt is everywhere!”

On Not Worrying About Awards (even though she just won an NAACP award for “Entertainer of the Year” last week)

“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 Always Knowing She’d Be Famous (and her early hustle!)

“I was tryna babysit at 8. I would say, ‘You go to the store, I’ll watch the baby. Gimme $5!’”

“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.”

On Sending Her Son to an HBCU after Being Racially Profiled

“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.”

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