Co-stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson were getting paid around $175,000 per episode of Empire. Indeed it’s estimated that Taraji is currently worth about $16 Million. But this wasn’t always the life for Taraji.

Don’t get comfortable calling Taraji P. Henson “Cookie from Empire”—she deserves more respect than that. 
She may have surprised some by stealing every scene she was in during Empire’s maiden voyage, but she’s hardly a rookie. Since moving to Los Angeles nearly 20 years ago, Henson has ascended the ranks, moving from an office job to bit parts, becoming a lively character actress, and finally arriving at the top of the mountain. It took Henson years to shake the “Yvette” brand that her animated performance in Baby Boy earned her, but her turn as ride-or-die chick/brilliant A&R Cookie Lyon on arguably the year’s best show has erased that.

Here are things you didn’t know about Taraji.

  • She Went to North Carolina A&T Before Howard University.
  • Although she graduated from Howard University in 1995, she initially attended North Carolina A&T University to study electrical engineering.

  • She Refused Special Treatment After Getting Pregnant During College
  • After getting pregnant during her junior year of college, she demanded that her professors not treat her differently. She even brought her son, Marcell, to class with her once he was born.

  • She Appeared in Dreamgirls During College
  • She was in a production of Dreamgirls during college—while pregnant.

  • After College, She Moved to L.A.
  • In 1996, she moved to L.A. with her son and $700 to her name.

  • Smart Guy Was Her First Major Acting Break
  • In 1997, she played the character Monique on Smart Guy. A year later, she played Leslie on the show for two episodes. She also guest starred on an episode of Sister, Sister.

  • She’s a Big Animal Rights Advocate
  • Henson, who’s posed nude for PETA in the past, considers her dog, Willie, a family member.

  • She Kind of Flipped Out After Learning She’d Be Auditioning with Tyrese for Baby Boy
  • She said she had a “moment” when she found out she’d be auditioning with Tyrese for the role she eventually got in Baby Boy, her first major—and leading—role. Their chemistry was, and remains, electric.

  • Her Role in Hustle & Flow Nearly Went to Another Actress
  • She had to fight for her role in Hustle & Flow, because Terrence Howard originally wanted it to go to Meagan Good.

  • She’s an Academy Award Nominee, So Recognize
  • She was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008 for her performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

  • And, Technically, She’s Already an Academy Award-Winner
  • She’s also technically already an Oscar-winner. She sang the vocals on the version of “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” seen in Hustle & Flow. The song infamously won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2006.

  • She’s Amazing at Improvising Shade
  • Some of her best shade on Empire—“Booboo Kitty”; “Shut up, Dora!“—was improvised.

  • Funny Enough, She’s Used to Being Called “Cookie”
  • According to her, “Cookie” was her nickname for part of her life.

  • She’s a Mary J. Blige, J. Cole, and Joey Bada$$ Fan
  • She credits Mary J. Blige’s music for keeping her sane, and she’s also a fan of J. Cole and Joey Bada$$.

  • She Almost Passed on the Role of Cookie Lyon
  • She nearly turned down her role on Empire because Terrence Howard wasn’t cast yet, and that’s who she wanted to work with based on their history.

  • Empire’s Homophobia Isn’t What Concerned Her the Most About the Show
  • She was more worried about Empire’s anti-Obama comment.

  • Taraji and Fifty had a social media feud over Empire and power
  • (see the full tea below)

    Taraji’s latest project Coffee & Kareem

    Taraji on dealing with Anxiety and Depression

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    Don't get comfortable calling Taraji P. Henson Cookie from Empire she deserves more respect than that

    Those Terrence days....wish they were real life

    That messy hair look

    Embarrassing Feud Alert

    No one can be petty quite like rapper, entrepreneur, and “Power” executive producer Curtis Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent.   In 2015, after “Power” was on the air for a year, “Empire” debuted on Fox and 50 Cent caused a social media debate between the two. Golden Globe Award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson responded to the rapper a the time saying, “I pay attention to $’s NOT cents.”And when she appeared on rapper T.I.’s podcast “Expeditiously” recently she doubled down on her comments.  “Our show has nothing to do with his show,” Henson said. “We’re talking two different subject matters. And then again 50, do you know what the f— I had to do to get here? Why tear down another black person? For competition? There are a million other shows you can compete with. To do that publicly? It’s embarrassing.” Fifty got wind of Henson’s comments, and 50 being 50 responded in a lengthy post uploaded to his Instagram account. “I saw @tarajiphenson on @troubleman31 podcast; this is my sincere apology I did not mean to hurt your feelings in anyway. I love your work and I think you are amazing,” 50 wrote.  “I’m sorry no one is watching your show anymore. I realize I have to work on the fact that I have less empathy then others. I have met with the top executives at Fox and sold them (The Notorious Cop) it’s the show that is replacing yours, but I really want to work with you,” he continued.  “I mean your awesome we would work well together, but if you don’t like the idea I understand. if you don’t roll with me, your gonna get rolled the fuck over. Fans and fellow celeb Bow Wow found 50’s response to be hilarious.  “Bro You really have no chill ,” rapper Bow Wow wrote.” You tripping bro.”  “You are so crazy, but I love it.” “This n– don’t have no feelings .” “Lol man, I just hope you keep winning because if you fall, they’ll come for your head over all the dust you’ve done kicked up.. #success #forever #dontgobroke.”  “Fifty’s the black Trump .”  Where does all this drama stem from?  Fifty has been critical of the show, “Empire,” and in 2014, he claimed that the Fox show ripped off “Power.” He also accused “Empire” of copying the promotion of the Starz show in 2015. Their show is … the artwork was very similar; they used ‘Power’ in the tagline … they didn’t have to do that,” Jackson said during a “Power” panel at the Television Critics Association.  Fifty noted that he had met Henson, who plays Cookie Lyon on “Empire” a few times, but the two haven’t build any relationship.   On Twitter, a fan asked Henson in 2015 how she felt about 50’s criticism, and she wrote, “I pay attention to $’s NOT cents?” While Henson hasn’t responded to 50’s lengthy Instagram post, the New York native continued to take jabs at Henson. The How to Rob” MC uploaded a photo of the book cover “Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD’s First ‘Hip-Hop Cop.’”  “This is the book we created the New Hit Tv show coming soon on FOX to replace Empire. TIP Is already signed on, don’t f– play wit me I’m out here. #starzgettheapp #abcforlife Feb11,” 50 wrote for the caption. He didn’t stop there. Fifty proceeded to post a photo of Henson with actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of allegedly staging his homophobic and racist attack in Chicago in January 2019.  “@tarajiphenson I didn’t destroy your show it destroyed itself. I hope you accept my sincere apology, forever your fan and friend Fofty. ps, I’m looking forward to working with you or watching you watch me work. Empire” is essentially a wrap for Taraji, Whether Henson chooses to work with 50 in the future is yet to be determined. That’s if she’ll ever speak to him following his antics. 

    Source: Atlanta Black Star

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