Taraji P. Henson recently spoke to Marie Claire about playing a hip-hop mogul’s cast-off first wife battling her ex for control of the business in FOX’s new series Empire.
If you had the chance to watch the Empire premiere last week then you know that Cookie is one tough..well, you know. So what does Taraji love most about the tough lady out for retribution? “Cookie is from a place where her options were slim. I’m sure she hates that she had to resort to dealing drugs, but she and [ex-husband] Lucious used the only means they had to make a better life for their children. That’s what I love about her: Family comes first.”
Funny enough, getting into television was not on her radar at the time Empire came to her. ” I was not looking for television. My manager said, “I have this script. You have to read it.” I was getting paid $5 a week to do theater in Pasadena, eight shows a week. I said, “I don’t even have time to read a script.” One day, I picked it up, and I couldn’t put it down. It scared the hell out of me. I was like, “We’re going to offend so many people!” I love that it made me nervous. Cookie is not playing it safe. She’s balls to the walls.”
One thing Taraji wants audiences to acknowledge is that Empire is a story for everyone. “I don’t see color, I want society to get past that. If we don’t, it will always be the black and the white. Just the word black says to others, “It’s not for me. It’s a black thing.” I look at it like: Humans. Pain. Struggle. Love. Black people don’t hurt differently than white or Asian people. That’s how I see it.”
You can read the rest of what Taraji revealed about the new hit series in the February issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now!