Taraji P. Henson

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Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson 2012.jpg
Henson in 2012
Born Taraji Penda Henson
(1970-09-11) September 11, 1970 (age 45)
Washington D.C.
Alma mater Howard University
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1995–present
Children 1

Taraji Penda Henson[1][2] (/təˈrɑːi/ tə-RAH-jee; born September 11, 1970)[1][2] is an American actress and singer. She studied acting at Howard University and began her Hollywood career in guest-roles on several television shows before making her breakthrough in Baby Boy (2001). In 2005, she starred in Hustle & Flow and played Queenie in David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), for which she received an Academy Award nomination. In 2010, she appeared in the comedy Date Night and co-starred in the remake of The Karate Kid. In 2012, Henson was in the large ensemble cast film Think Like A Man and reprised her role in its sequel.

Henson has also had an extensive career in television, having been a regular cast member on series such as The Division, Boston Legal and Eli Stone. From 2011 to 2013, she co-starred as Detective Jocelyn Carter in the CBS drama Person of Interest. As of 2015, she stars as Cookie Lyon on the Fox drama series Empire, for which she won a Critics' Choice Award and a Golden Globe Award, and nominated for an Emmy Award. In 2016, Time named Henson one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Henson was born in southeast Washington, D.C., the daughter of Bernice Gordon, a corporate manager at Woodward & Lothrop, and Boris Lawrence Henson,[4] a janitor and metal fabricator.[5][6][7][8] Her first and middle names are of Swahili origin, "Taraji" meaning hope and "Penda" meaning love.[9][10] According to a mitochondrial DNA analysis, her matrilineal lineage can be traced to the Masa people of Cameroon.[11] She says that North Pole explorer Matthew Henson is "the brother of my great-great grandfather."[12]

Henson graduated from Oxon Hill High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland, in 1988.[1] She then attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where she studied electrical engineering before transferring to Howard University to study drama.[5][8] To pay for college, she worked mornings as a secretary at The Pentagon and evenings as a singing-dancing waitress on a dinner-cruise ship, the Spirit of Washington.[13]

Career[edit]

Film[edit]

Henson's breakthrough role was in the 2001 comedy drama film Baby Boy which she portrayed Yvette, alongside singer Tyrese Gibson.[14]

In 2005, Henson was in the independent film Hustle & Flow as Shug, the love interest of Terrence Howard, who portrayed the male lead DJay. The film was nominated for two Academy awards, winning one. In 2008, she appeared opposite Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.[15] Henson plays the role of Queenie, Benjamin's mother, in a performance that led to an Academy award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.[16] She noted in an interview that, "Queenie is the embodiment of unconditional love."[9][15]

Henson was in Tyler Perry films The Family That Preys in 2008 and I Can Do Bad All By Myself in 2009. In 2010, she appeared in the remake of The Karate Kid alongside Jaden Smith. The film was a commercial success.[17]

In 2011, she starred as Tiffany Rubin in the Lifetime Movie Network film Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story. The film was based on true events of the life of a New York woman Tiffany Rubin, whose son Kobe was abducted by his biological father to South Korea. Determined to bring her son back home, she is helped by an organization for lost children which his headed by Mark Miller, portrayed by Terry O'Quinn, and with a plan they are able bring her son back home.[18] Henson's portrayal as Tiffany Rubin received positive reviews[19] which earned her several award nominations including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.[20]

In 2012, Henson was in the large ensemble cast film Think Like A Man, which was based on Steve Harvey's 2009 book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Henson reprised her role in the film's sequel Think Like a Man Too, which was released in June 2014.[21]

Television[edit]

Henson has guest-starred on several television shows, such as the WB Television Network's Smart Guy, playing the role of Mo'Nique (1997–98); the Fox series House in 2005; and CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2006. She also starred on an episode of Sister, Sister.[1]

Henson has also been a cast member on several television shows, including Lifetime Television's The Division and ABC's Boston Legal for one season. Her recurring appearances in television include the character Angela Scott on ABC's Eli Stone in December 2008. In 2011, Henson was cast in the CBS crime-suspense series Person of Interest.[22][23] In the Person of Interest November 20, 2013 episode "The Crossing", after co-starring for two and a half years, Henson's character Carter was killed as part of the series' new storyline direction.[24]

In February 2014, several months after her last episode of Person of Interest aired on CBS, Henson was hired by Fox to star in the new TV series pilot Empire, a musical drama set in the hip hop recording industry.[25] Henson plays Cookie Lyon opposite former Hustle & Flow costar Terrence Howard. Fox ordered the pilot to series in May 2014 and the TV series debuted on January 7, 2015 with positive reviews from critics and wide commercial success.[26][27] Her work as Cookie Lyon gave her widespread recognition and critical acclaim.[28][29][30] In July 2015, Henson was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and she submitted show's Pilot for Emmy voting. In January 2016, Henson won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for Empire becoming only the third African American actress to take home the award after Gail Fisher (1972) and Regina Taylor (1992).[31]

Other work[edit]

Henson made her singing debut in Hustle & Flow; she provided the vocals for the Three 6 Mafia track "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp".[13] The song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2006, giving Three 6 Mafia the distinction of becoming the first African American hip-hop act to win in that category.[32] Henson performed the song at the live Oscar ceremony on March 5, 2006, with the group.[33] Additionally, she performed the song "In My Daughter's Eyes" on the 2006 charity album Unexpected Dreams – Songs From the Stars.[34]

Henson has made several appearances in music videos and television. For example, she starred in the rapper Common's music video "Testify" in 2005 as the wife of a soon to be convicted murderer.[35] She also appeared in Tyrese Gibson's music video Stay as his love interest.[36]

On March 16, 2015, she was a guest co-host on Live! with Kelly and Michael filling in for regular co-host Kelly Ripa.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Henson became pregnant during her junior year of college,[1] and gave birth in 1994[38] to her son, Marcel Johnson.[39][40] His father, her high-school sweetheart William Lamar Johnson, was murdered in 2003.[41][42]

Controversy[edit]

In 2014 Henson said her son had been racially profiled by police and that his car had been illegally searched during a traffic stop that October 18 in Glendale, California. A video obtained by the Los Angeles Times showed Johnson had driven through a lighted crosswalk while a pedestrian was crossing, given verbal consent to search his vehicle, and admitted to smoking marijuana two hours before driving. Hashish oil and marijuana were found inside his car.[40] Forty minutes after the video was made public,[40] Henson said in an Instagram message, "I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department. A mother's job is not easy and neither is a police officer's."[43][44]

Activism[edit]

A supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Henson in January 2011 appeared nude in an ad for the I'd Rather Be Naked Than Wear Fur campaign.[45][46]

Henson joined PETA again for a 2013 campaign stating "Be an Angel for Animals". In the ad Henson poses with her family dog Uncle Willie. The ad highlights the issue that, "Chained dogs suffer day in and day out. They are cold, hungry, thirsty, vulnerable, and lonely. Keep them inside, where it's safe and warm."[47]

In February 2015, Henson posed in an ad for the NOH8 Campaign, which supports the LGBT community.[48]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Left-Wing Student
2000 Satan's School for Girls Paige
2001 Baby Boy Yvette
2002 Enough Anna Hiller
2002 Book of Love: The Definitive Reason Why Men Are Dogs Date #4/Ghetto Girl
2004 Hair Show Tiffany
2005 Hustle & Flow Shug
2005 Four Brothers Camille Mercer
2005 Animal Ramona
2006 Something New Nedra
2007 Smokin' Aces Sharice Watters
2007 Talk to Me Vernell Watson
2008 The Family That Preys Pam Evans
2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Queenie
2009 Not Easily Broken Clarice Clark-Johnson
2009 Hurricane Season Dayna Collins
2009 I Can Do Bad All By Myself April Jones
2010 Date Night Detective Arroyo
2010 The Karate Kid Sherry Parker
2010 Peep World Mary
2010 Once Fallen Pearl
2011 The Good Doctor Nurse Theresa
2011 Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story[49] Tiffany Rubin
2011 Larry Crowne B'Ella
2011 Laugh at My Pain Taraji
2011 From the Rough Catana Starks
2012 Think Like a Man Lauren Harris
2013 Madly Madagascar Okapi Voice role
2014 Think Like a Man Too[21] Lauren Harris
2014 No Good Deed Terri Granger
2014 Top Five Herself
2016 Term Life Samantha Thurman
2017 Hidden Figures Katherine Johnson Filming

Television[edit]

Year(s) Title Role(s) Notes
1997–1998 Smart Guy Mo'Nique 3 episodes
1999 Sister, Sister Leslie Episode: "Two's Company"
1998 ER Elan Episode: "Split Second"
2001 Murder She Wrote: The Last Free Man Bess Pinckney Movie
2002–2004 The Division Inspector Washington 14 episodes
2004 All of Us Kim Episode: "In Through the Out Door"
2005 House Moira Episode: "Spin"
2006 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Christina Episode: "I Like to Watch"
2007–2008 Boston Legal Whitney Rome 17 episodes
2008 Eli Stone Angela Scott 3 episodes in season 2
2010 The Cleveland Show Chanel Williams (voice) Episode: "Brotherly Love"
2011–2013,
2015
Person of Interest Detective Jocelyn "Joss" Carter 55 episodes
2014 Season Of Love Jackie Lifetime movie
2015–present Empire Cookie Lyon Main role
2015 Saturday Night Live Herself/host April 11 episode
2015 Live! with Kelly and Michael Herself/co-host March 16 episode
2016 Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade Ethel (voice) Special

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Association Category Result Ref.
2001 Baby Boy Black Reel Awards Best Actress[citation needed] Nominated
2005 Hustle & Flow BET Awards Best Actress[citation needed] Won
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Won
Best Ensemble[citation needed] Nominated
Black Movie Awards Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture[citation needed] Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Breakthrough Performance[citation needed] Nominated
Best Kiss (shared with Terrence Howard)[citation needed] Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture[citation needed] Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Nominated
Four Brothers Black Reel Awards Best Ensemble[citation needed] Nominated
2007 Talk to Me NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture[citation needed] Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture[citation needed] Nominated
2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Austin Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Won
BET Awards Best Actress[citation needed] Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture[citation needed] Won
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance[citation needed] Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress[citation needed] Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role[citation needed] Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture[citation needed] Nominated
2009 I Can Do Bad All By Myself Black Reel Awards Best Actress[citation needed] Nominated
2011 Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story BET Awards Best Actress[citation needed] Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special[citation needed] Won
Black Reel Awards Best Actress: T.V. Movie/Cable[citation needed] Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie[citation needed] Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film[citation needed] Nominated
2015 NAACP Image Awards Entertainer of the Year Won [50]
No Good Deed Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won [50]
Empire BET Awards Best Actress Won [51]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Drama Series Won [52]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [53]
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress: Drama Nominated [54]
Choice TV: Chemistry (shared with Trai Byers, Bryshere Y. Gray, Terrence Howard & Jussie Smollett) Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards Individual Achievement in Drama Nominated [55]
2016 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [56]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Won [57]
Shorty Award Best Actress Won
BET Award Best Actress Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Pending [58]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Taraji P. Henson - Biography". Biography.com (FYI / A&E Networks). Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Taraji P. Henson". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ http://time.com/4301243/taraji-p-henson-2016-time-100/
  4. ^ "Boris Lawrence Henson RIP...I no u got heaven in stitches cause u had the best sense of humor even in your last moments you kept us laughin.". twitter. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Wiltz, Teresa (July 21, 2005), "Drama Queen: Taraji Henson Moved to Hollywood And Smacked It Right Upside the Head", The Washington Post, p. C01 
  6. ^ "Veteran Actors, First Time Nominees". The Wall Street Journal. February 19, 2009.  (subscription required)
  7. ^ NAACP nominates actress with local ties
  8. ^ a b Galloway, Stephen; Guider, Elizabeth (December 8, 2008). "Oscar Roundtable: The Actresses". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Interview with Tavis Smiley, December 19, 2008.
  10. ^ Henson, Taraji P. (December 5, 2013). The Late Show with David Letterman. Interview with David Letterman. Worldwide Pants. CBS. . Approximately 4 minutes before the end of the show, Henson said that first name is Taraji and "means hope in Swahili" and that her middle name is "Penda, P-E-N-D-A, and that means love in Swahili".
  11. ^ "Taraji P. Henson Ancestry Reveal". The Africa Channel via YouTube. January 31, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  12. ^ Henson in Williams, Kam (2008). "Taraji Shares All, Even the Surprising Color of Her Panties". African American Literature Book Club. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved April 13, 2015. Yes, he's my great-great cousin. He was the brother of my great-great grandfather. Matthew would send him letters about his travels while out on his expeditions. 
  13. ^ a b Teran, Andi (February 12, 2009). "Meet the Nominees: Taraji P. Henson". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Taraji P. Henson Talks Cookie Taking Over Her Life, Kerry Washington, Baby Boy Sequel, Season 2 Of Empire + More". power1051fm.com. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Williams, Kam (December 14, 2008). "Taraji P. Henson: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Interview". KamWilliams.com. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  16. ^ MacDonald, Gayle (January 23, 2009), "Benjamin Button Leads Race for What Pitt Calls -- Our Highest Honour", Globe & Mail, Toronto, p. R13. 
  17. ^ "Taraji P. Henson Interview: The Karate Kid, Beijing Culture and Working for Will Smith". pr.com. June 9, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story: TV review [Lifetime]". entertainmentrealm.com. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Taraji P. Henson". Emmys. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b "Production starts on 'Think Like a Man Too'". upi.com. May 28, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Person of Interest: Cast & Details". Tvguide. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Taraji P. Hanson". Buddytv. Retrieved February 18, 2015. 
  24. ^ Snetiker, Marc (November 20, 2013). "'Person of Interest' midseason shocker: Taraji P. Henson talks Carter's big [SPOILER!]". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  25. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (February 26, 2014). "Taraji P. Henson Nabs Female Lead in Fox's Lee Daniels Hip-Hop Drama 'Empire'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  26. ^ Gomez, Luis (July 5, 2014). "Lee Daniels' 'Empire' picked up by Fox, will 'likely' film in Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Empire: Season 1". January 29, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Cookie Monster: How Cookie Lyon Became the Most Compelling Character on TV". root.com. February 15, 2015. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  29. ^ Alyssa Rosenberg (March 18, 2015). "'Empire's' Cookie Lyon is TV's best new female character". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  30. ^ Harris, Aisha (March 18, 2015). "Just Give Taraji P. Henson the Emmy Already". Slate.com. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  31. ^ Callahan, Yesha (January 11, 2016). "Taraji P. Henson Becomes 3rd Black Woman to Win Golden Globe for Best Actress in TV Drama". The Root. Univision Communications. Retrieved January 17, 2016. 
  32. ^ Swash, Rosie (June 12, 2011). "Three Six Mafia win an Oscar". The guardian. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Three 6 Mafia Oscar Performance". youtube.com. Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars". allmusic. 
  35. ^ "Common - Testify". youtube.com. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Tyrese "Stay" (official music video) feat. Taraji P. Henson". Youtube. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  37. ^ "Scoop: Live with Kelly and Michael Week of March 16, 2015". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  38. ^ Boardman, Madeline (March 23, 2015). "Taraji P. Henson Sends Son Marcel to Howard University After Racial Profiling". Us Weekly. Retrieved March 23, 2015.  Note: Source spells son's first name "Marcel".
  39. ^ Brown, Laura (August 13, 2015). "Fortune Cookie: Taraji P. Henson". Harper's Bazaar. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  40. ^ a b c Rocha, Veronica (March 27, 2015). "Actress Taraji Henson apologizes to Glendale police for racial profile claims". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 9, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  41. ^ "Taraji Henson Talks 'Think Like A Man' and Motherhood". The Wendy Williams Show via BlackRaceKids.com. April 25, 2012. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2012. ...her 17-year-old son... 
  42. ^ "Oscars 2009: Meet the Nominees You've Never Heard Of". Hollywood. 
  43. ^ "#TurningANegativeIntoAPositive #LoveTarajiPHenson". Taraji P. Henson Instagram page. March 27, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  44. ^ "Actress Taraji P. Henson Apologizes For Claiming Glendale Police Racially Profiled Her Son", CBS Los Angeles, March 27, 2015.
  45. ^ "Taraji P Henson Goes Nude Again, This Time For PETA" January 27, 2011, Mrs Grapevine
  46. ^ Weiss, Shari (January 28, 2011). "Taraji P. Henson poses nude for PETA's 'I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur' ad campaign". Daily News. New York City. 
  47. ^ Dinh, Theresa (February 27, 2013). "Taraji P. Henson Steals Her Pooch's Spotlight in Nude PETA Campaign (PHOTOS)". GlobalGrind.com. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  48. ^ Doggett, Jolie A. (February 4, 2015). "Photo Fab: Taraji P. Henson Supports NOH8 Campaign for LGBT Rights | Essence.com". Essence. Time Inc. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  49. ^ Morales, Wilson (January 4, 2011). "First Look at Taraji P. Henson's Lifetime Movie 'Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story". Black Voices. 
  50. ^ a b Noonan, Kevin (February 6, 2015). "Taraji P. Henson Named NAACP's Entertainer of the Year at Image Awards". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  51. ^ Variety Staff. "BET Awards Winners: Full List". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2015. 
  52. ^ Hipes, Patrick (May 31, 2015). "Critics' Choice TV Awards Winners: The Full List". deadline.com. Retrieved July 18, 2015. 
  53. ^ "Game of Thrones set to dominate Emmys after netting 24 nominations". Guardian. July 16, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015. 
  54. ^ Coggan, Devan (June 9, 2015). "Teen Choice Award nominations pit Zayn Malik against One Direction". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved July 18, 2015. 
  55. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 4, 2015). "2015 TCA Award Nominees Include 'Game of Thrones', 'Empire', 'The Americans' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 18, 2015. 
  56. ^ "2016 Critics' Choice Awards Nominations". Critics' Choice Awards. December 14, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 
  57. ^ "The Golden Globes: Full List of Winners and Nominees". NBC News. January 10, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2016. 
  58. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/emmys-2016-full-list-nominations-910903

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Michael Keaton
Saturday Night Live host
April 11, 2015
Succeeded by
Scarlett Johansson