She’s starred in over 50 films and television shows and has a new FOX drama, Empire, set to air this month, and even with her success Taraji P. Henson has always had her son by her side and as her main focus while she was pursuing her acting career.
“I came up in this industry a mom,” Henson tells Chicago Sun-Times Splash, whose son, Marcel, was born in 1994. “I always had a kid to consider, so dating this one and that one and showing up on a [red] carpet was a no-no for me.”
The 44-year-old relates her character of Cookie to that of any mother trying to provide for her child. “This is a woman who gave up 17 years of her life so that her family could eat and get out of the ’hood,” Henson continued. “She and Lucious both sold drugs, but she didn’t snitch on him. He was the talent, so had he gone to jail how were her babies gonna eat? These are real, life-altering decisions this woman had to make, and she [put] family first.”
The mom-of-one even compared her role to that of her own upbringing. “I grew up in the ’hood,” she says. “I remember when [drugs] were dropped off in the ’hood; I saw families destroyed. I understood that whole mentality of hopelessness and that [selling drugs] is the only way out. I understood that struggle. … So there wasn’t really a lot of research [to get into character], as opposed to just understanding her.”
Empire is a hip-hop family drama that stars Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and Gabourey Sidibe and is set to premiere January 7th on FOX.