Taraji P. Henson on Cookie

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Taraji P. Henson graces W’s August cover, which marks the magazine’s annual Pop issue, and in the interview with Lynn Hirschberg the Empire star discusses her career, playing Cookie—and how her clothes become a character on the show, and challenging Lee Daniels, herself, and ultimately, the show’s viewers.

On her role as Cookie in Empire: “Not only would I never be offered a character like Cookie in a movie, but she doesn’t exist,” Henson said. “Cookie is bold and crazy, and she loves the struggle. She started from nothing, and now she’s at the top. In that way, we’re alike: Cookie is the American Dream.”

Henson, who recently won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for best actress in a drama series, has 3.49 million followers on Twitter alone. “They want Cookie,” Henson declared. “They see her heart. They see her intentions. And they love her style—her style is 17 years behind the fashion curve, which makes the clothes a character on the show. As Cookie grows, you’ll see her fashion grow. And people love that—she’s a work in progress. The only thing that never changes is her spirit: To me, Cookie is living, breathing, walking truth.”

Photo Credit: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for W Magazine

 When Lee Daniels asked Taraji P. Henson if she was interested in playing Cookie Lyon, her answer was a flat-out no. “I was like, This is stupid,” recalled Henson. “Hip-hop—dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. But then I started to think, Cookie is going to piss so many people off! She hits her son with a broom; she talks back. Clearly, this was a challenge.”

 On moving to Los Angeles while her son was still a toddler, to pursue acting: “It was a struggle,” Henson remembered. “But my son grew as my career grew. I never had a nanny—I did TV so I could be home with him. I wasn’t making my millions, but I was able to fulfill my dreams and be a mother.” 

 See the photos and read the full storyhttp://www.wmagazine.com/people/celebrities/2015/06/taraji-p-henson-cookie-empire

Producer who swims with the sharks in Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. Riding the entertainment wave from one red carpet to the next.

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