Taraji P. Henson

Why Do People Love Taraji P. Henson?

Taraji P. Henson is beloved for her incredible range as an actress across drama, comedy, and action genres. She first rose to fame playing the role of Yvette in Baby Boy, showcasing her talent.

However, her breakout performance was playing Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button opposite Brad Pitt, earning her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Henson has proven equally adept at drama and comedy. In dramas like Hustle & Flow, Taken from Me, and From the Rough, she delivers heartfelt performances that move audiences.

Yet she also shines in comedies like Date Night and Larry Crowne. This versatility is part of what makes her so adored.

Embodies Powerful Female Characters

In addition to her range, Taraji P. Henson is celebrated for portraying strong female characters that inspire viewers.

Perhaps most iconic is her role as Cookie Lyon in Empire. As the tough but loving matriarch of the Lyon family, Cookie is bold, fierce, and unafraid to speak her mind. Female fans connected deeply with such a powerful on-screen role model.

Other force-of-nature women Henson has brought to life include DC Comics assassin Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures, and stage legend Shug Avery in Hustle and Flow.

Through these performances and others, Henson has established herself as an actress who unapologetically centers strong women on screen.

Open About Mental Health

Henson has also earned admiration for being outspoken around topics like mental health, especially in the Black community. She started the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation to provide support around mental health issues that disproportionately impact African Americans.

Named after her father who struggled with his own mental health challenges after serving in Vietnam, the foundation provides scholarships and programs to those in need. Henson has shared her personal story about getting therapy and taking medication for anxiety and depression. Her transparency and advocacy to reduce stigma have resonated widely.

Perseverance is Inspiring

For many, Taraji P. Henson also represents the power of perseverance. Early in her acting career she struggled to break through, even working as a secretary between auditioning for roles. However, she continued to hone her craft and believed in herself even when she faced doubts.

When her big break in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button finally came, she was already in her late 30s. But she so impressed audiences that a whole new world of opportunity opened up. Her determination through the ups and downs serves as motivation to keep striving no matter one’s age or the challenges faced.

Embraces Her Confidence and Style

Finally, people appreciate Taraji P. Henson for fully embracing her confidence and unique personal style. She exudes a sense of comfort in her own skin, wearing vivid colors, plunging necklines, bold prints and more. Her fashion choices perfectly align with her vibrant personality.

Whether rocking long sleek hair or a short pixie cut, no one would dare call Henson shy or a wallflower. She loves fashion and has fun with it. For those who resonate with her assurance and flair, Henson represents a lesson in unapologetic self-expression. Her joy in being her authentic self makes her a star fans can’t help but love.

Year Award Production
2005 Black Reel Awards – Best Actress Hustle & Flow
2009 Academy Awards – Best Supporting Actress (nomination) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2010 BET Awards – Best Actress The Karate Kid

Why Do Audiences Relate to Cookie Lyon?

Cookie Lyon, Taraji’s beloved Empire character, connects with viewers on many levels. A key reason is that Cookie perseveres despite the obstacles she faces. When the show begins, she has just been released from a 17-year unjust prison sentence and has to rebuild her life.

Viewers identify with Cookie’s determination to reach her goals no matter what stands in her way.

Her loving yet tumultuous relationships with her sons also resonate. And although Cookie attains immense success, she remains grounded in her sense of identity. For many, especially Black women, Cookie represents overcoming life’s difficulties with courage and grace.

Henson Influenced Fashion Trends?

With her bold personal style, Taraji P. Henson has significantly impacted fashion trends among her fanbase. When Empire premiered and Cookie Lyon burst onto screens with her flamboyant wardrobe, searches for animal prints, statement outerwear and plunging necklines skyrocketed.

Retail data showed sales increases for leopard prints, faux furs and low-cut tops as mainstream audiences sought to emulate Henson’s iconic fashion. Even today, her continuing choices to confidently rock vibrant looks encourages fans to embrace color and fun with their own clothing. Henson makes clear that fashion rules are made to be broken.

What Mental Health Topics Does Henson Advocate For?

Through her Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, Taraji P. Henson focuses on supporting mental wellness specifically in the African American community. The foundation’s programs aim to increase awareness and access to treatment around issues like:

  • Depression – which studies show impacts Black Americans in higher rates than other ethnic groups due to factors like discrimination and lack of medical care access
  • Anxiety
  • Suicide prevention – suicide rates have been rising faster among young Black Americans
  • PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder is undertreated especially among Black veterans

Henson herself has openly discussed her own battles with anxiety and depression. Her transparency about needing help, despite stigma around mental health issues, has encouraged more people to seek support. Expanding free therapy opportunities in underserved communities remains a driving mission.

What Are Henson’s Other Passions and Causes Besides Acting?

In addition to acting and advocating for mental health support, Taraji P. Henson has other causes she feels passionately about including:

Education Access

Henson funds scholarships through her foundation to remove financial barriers that prevent promising students from completing college or vocational programs. She believes education unlocks life-changing opportunities.

Racial Justice

Never one to shy away from speaking out, Henson uses her platform to call attention to racial injustices impacting Black lives. She participates in fundraising campaigns and awareness initiatives hoping to move the needle.

Arts/Performing Arts Education

As an actress, Henson understands firsthand the importance of arts education to spark creativity in children. She works frequently with nonprofits that provide access to theater, dance, music and more in underfunded schools.

Animal Welfare

A lifelong animal lover, Henson collaborates often with organizations focused on animal rescue and rehabilitation. She uses social media regularly to help find homes for animals in need.

What Other Hidden Figures Could Receive Biopics?

Like Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures, there are many overlooked Black female figures in history whose incredible stories deserve spotlighting through future biopics. Some candidates include:

Bessie Coleman – First African American female pilot

Bessie Coleman broke gender and racial barriers to become a pioneering aviator in the 1920s/30s. Her tale of having to learn French to travel overseas for pilot training when American schools refused to admit her due to her race would showcase incredible persistence against discrimination.

Madam C.J. Walker – America’s First Female Self-Made Millionaire

As an African American daughter of slaves who built a haircare empire in the early 1900s that revolutionized black hair, Madam C.J. Walker’s rags-to-riches story would highlight an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit.

Claudette Colvin – Teen who refused to give up her bus seat before Rosa Parks

Months before Rosa Parks, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin stood up against segregation in Alabama by defiantly staying seated on a bus while white passengers boarded. Showcasing this courageous yet overlooked act could shine a light on another side of the civil rights movement.

Shirley Chisholm – First African American Congresswoman

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm made history as the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress. Her motto “Unbossed and Unbought” epitomized her outspoken advocacy for women and people of color that was unprecedented in her time.


In exploring the question “Why do people love Taraji P. Henson?”, a few key themes emerge. Audiences connect deeply with her versatility and authenticity as a performer. The inspiring characters she inhabits become cultural touchpoints. Her advocacy provides hope to those needing support. And she empowers people to embrace their confidence through her own self-expression.

By taking both dramatic and comedic roles and speaking openly about mental health, Henson breaks boundaries and brings marginalized issues into the mainstream. Simultaneously she leverages her platform to uplift often ignored communities and encourage change around racial justice and education access.

Few entertainers today fuse star power, critical acclaim and social consciousness as effectively as Taraji P. Henson. Whether mesmerizing viewers with her acting range or inspiring them through her activism, she has undeniably earned her place in people’s hearts.

Her career path symbolizes both overcoming life’s difficulties and unapologetically championing one’s identity against societal limitations. These timely messages resonate profoundly.

Indeed in playing characters like Cookie Lyon, Katherine Johnson and Amanda Waller, Henson breathes life into the type of leaders that the present cultural moment craves – trailblazers who speak truth to power fearlessly.

And by being such a voice herself off-screen, she becomes the change-maker fans wish to see reflected. With seemingly no limits to what Henson can achieve, one imagines her iconic status and influence will only grow in years ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has Taraji P Henson won an Oscar?

No, Taraji P. Henson has not won an Academy Award, though she did receive a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She is also a Critics Choice Award winner for her role in Empire among other honors like BET Awards, NAACP Image Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

What is Taraji P Henson’s biggest box office movie?

The highest grossing films starring Taraji P. Henson at the box office are Think Like A Man which brought in over $90 million and its sequel Think Like A Man Too at over $70 million. Other top box office hits include No Good Deed ($52 million), Karate Kid ($176 million) and Hustle and Flow ($23 million).

How much is Taraji P Henson worth?

According to available data, Taraji P. Henson’s net worth is approximately $25 million. As one of the highest paid television actresses during her Empire run with a salary of $175,000 per episode and starring roles in multiple movies, she has amassed impressive wealth. And with upcoming films like The Color Purple musical, her net worth continues rising.

Where was Taraji P Henson born?

Taraji Penda Henson was born in Washington D.C. on September 11, 1970 making her currently 52 years old. She was raised in the city attending Oxon Hill High School in Maryland.

Is Taraji P Henson related to Bryshere Gray?

No, Bryshere “Yazz” Gray who starred alongside Taraji P. Henson as her son Hakeem Lyon in Empire does not share any biological relation. Their amazing on-screen mother-son chemistry emerged strictly through their acting partnership.

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