One of the most recognizable and critically acclaimed black female actresses of this generation is Washington, D.C.’s own Taraji P. Henson.
A graduate of Howard University, Henson has remained one of the most constant female powerhouses on both the big and small screen in America. Known for roles that showcase her sharp tongue and sassy attitude, Taraji has left her mark in a way that rare black actresses has been able to. She has a wide catalog of films ranging from comedy to black excellence that showcase her versatility and potential in Hollywood.
While she appeared as a special guest on several television shows, her breakthrough role came in 2001 as she was featured alongside Tyrese and Snoop Dogg in the film Baby Boy. Henson’s role allowed her signature sassy, loud persona to perfection as the love interest of the film’s mama-boy-protagonist, Jody. As impressive as this role was for her, it was only the beginning of what would become an important film career.
In 2006, Henson starred in the film Hustle and Flow. The film would become one of the most critically important films of her career. Henson’s career would continue to see large successes as she was a part of Tyler Perry films such as The Family That Preys and I Can Do Bad All By Myself. She has been nominated for two Emmy Awards, the biggest award show annually for television series. Furthermore, she has won a Golden Globe Award, showcasing her influence both critically and commercially. Other notable films in her career include Think Like a Man and the acclaimed Hidden Figures.
Aside from the big screen, Henson is most known today for her re-occuring role on the FOX series Empire. She serves as the role of Cookie Lyon, the mother and wife of family music business. The show has become a major hit and lead to notable awards and nominations for Henson, including her becoming the first black woman to receive an award for Best Lead Actress in a Television Series at the People’s Choice Awards.
Henson’s body of work have made her a prime role model for women across the world. She was recently listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. If that is reason enough to celebrate her, let’s do so for those whose lives she continues to change with her swagger, sass, and leadership. For these accomplishments, we salute Taraji P. Henson for Women’s History Month.