Taraji P. Henson: A Biography of the Award-Winning Actress

Taraji P. Henson: A Biography of the Award-Winning Actress

Taraji P. Henson is an American actress and singer who has starred in various movies and television shows, such as Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hidden Figures, Empire, and more. She has received numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, a Critics’ Choice Television Award, and an Academy Award nomination. She is also known for her activism and philanthropy, especially in the areas of mental health and education.

Taraji P. Henson :American actress and singer
FieldInformation
Full NameTaraji Penda Henson
ProfessionActress and singer
BirthdaySeptember 11, 1970
Birth PlaceWashington, D.C., U.S
Birth SignVirgo
Height5 ft 4 in (163 cm)
Weight132 lbs (60 kg)
Age53 years old (as of 2023)
Family MembersSon: Marcell Johnson (born in 1994) <br> Mother: Bernice Henson (died in 2006) 3 <br> Father: Boris Henson (died in 2005) <br> Grandmother: Patsy Ballard (died in 2014) <br> Fiancé: Kelvin Hayden (engaged since 2018)
Net Worth$25 million (as of 2020)
NationalityAmerican
MoviesSome of her notable movies are: Baby Boy (2001) as Yvette
– Hustle & Flow (2005) as Shug
– The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) as Queenie
– Date Night (2010) as Detective Arroyo
– The Karate Kid (2010) as Sherry Parker
– Think Like a Man (2012) as Lauren Harris
– Hidden Figures (2016) as Katherine Johnson
– What Men Want (2019) as Ali Davis
– The Best of Enemies (2019) as Ann Atwater

Taraji P. Henson

Where was Taraji Henson born?

Taraji Penda Henson was born on September 11, 1970, in Southeast Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. She is the daughter of Bernice Gordon, a corporate manager at Woodward & Lothrop, and Boris Lawrence Henson, a janitor and metal fabricator Her first and middle names are of Swahili origin, meaning “hope” and “love” respectively She has also claimed to be a descendant of Matthew Henson, one of the first explorers to reach the North Pole3

How was Taraji Henson’s early life?

Taraji Henson had a challenging early life, as her parents divorced when she was young and she witnessed domestic violence and substance abuse in her family. She was raised by her mother and grandmother, who instilled in her a strong work ethic and a sense of self-worth. She attended Oxon Hill High School in Maryland, where she excelled in academics and extracurricular activities. She was also interested in performing arts, especially singing and dancing.

Where did Taraji Henson receive her education?

Taraji Henson initially pursued a degree in electrical engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, but she dropped out after failing pre-calculus. She then transferred to Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C., where she studied theater. To pay for her tuition, she worked as a secretary at the Pentagon and as a singing-dancing waitress on a dinner-cruise ship. She graduated from Howard in 1995 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

What is distinctive feature of Taraji Henson?

Taraji Henson is known for her distinctive feature of playing strong female characters who overcome adversity and defy stereotypes. She has portrayed a variety of roles, such as a single mother of a disabled child in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a mathematician who helped launch the first American astronauts into space in Hidden Figures, and a music mogul who battles her ex-husband and his family in Empire. She has also demonstrated her versatility as an actress by appearing in different genres, such as comedy, drama, action, thriller, and romance.

How did Taraji Henson begin her career?

Taraji Henson began her career in the late 1990s, appearing in guest roles on several television shows, such as Smart Guy, Sister Sister, ER, and The Division. Her first major film role was in John Singleton’s Baby Boy (2001), where she played Yvette, the girlfriend of the protagonist Jody. Her performance earned her positive reviews and recognition from critics and audiences alike. She then starred in Hustle & Flow (2005), where she played Shug, a pregnant prostitute who supports an aspiring rapper. She also sang backup vocals on the film’s Oscar-winning song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”. In 2008, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Queenie, the adoptive mother of Benjamin Button, who ages backwards in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Since then, she has appeared in numerous films and television shows, such as Date Night, Think Like a Man, No Good Deed, Person of Interest, Hidden Figures, What Men Want, The Best of Enemies, and Empire. She has also won several awards and honors for her work, such as a Golden Globe Award, a Critics’ Choice Television Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a BET Award. In 2016, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

What are the achievements of Taraji P. Henson?

Taraji P. Henson is an American actress who has received various awards and nominations for her work in film and television. She is best known for playing strong female characters, such as Cookie Lyon in the drama series Empire and Katherine Johnson in the biographical film Hidden Figures. Some of her achievements include:

  • She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), a film that also earned her nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and the Critics’ Choice Awards.
  • She won a Golden Globe Award and a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Cookie Lyon in Empire (2015-2020), becoming the first African-American woman to do so. She also received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations in the same category.
  • She starred as Katherine Johnson, one of the NASA mathematicians who helped launch the first American astronauts into space, in Hidden Figures (2016), a film that was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. She also won a MTV Movie Award for Best Hero and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress for her performance.
  • She was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2016. Later that year, she released a New York Times best-selling autobiography titled Around the Way Girl, which chronicled her life and career.
  • She has also won several other awards, such as six BET Awards, two Black Reel Awards, a Satellite Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an honorary doctorate from Howard University, her alma mater.

Who is Taraji P. Henson married to?

As of September 2023, Taraji P. Henson is not married and does not have a husband. She was previously engaged to former NFL player Kelvin Hayden, whom she dated for three years before he proposed to her in 2018. However, their relationship ended in October 2020, when Henson announced that they had called off their engagement.

Henson has also dated other famous celebrities in the past, such as rapper and actor Common, basketball player Lamar Odom, and actor Hill Harper. She has one son, Marcell Johnson, from a previous relationship with her high school sweetheart William Lamar Johnson, who was murdered in 2003.

Is Taraji P. Henson socially active?

Taraji P. Henson is very active on social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, where she has millions of followers. She often posts photos and videos of her personal and professional life, as well as messages of inspiration and empowerment for her fans.

Henson is also socially active in terms of raising awareness and advocating for various causes, especially mental health issues. She founded The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018, named after her late father who suffered from mental illness after serving in the Vietnam War. The foundation aims to provide support and resources for African-Americans who struggle with mental health challenges.

Henson has also spoken openly about her own struggles with depression and anxiety, and how she seeks therapy to cope with them. She has encouraged others to do the same and to break the stigma around mental health in the Black community.

What is the net worth of Taraji P. Henson?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Taraji P. Henson has a net worth of $25 million as of 2023. She has earned most of her wealth from her successful acting career in film and television, as well as from endorsements and other ventures.

Henson reportedly earned $175,000 per episode for her role as Cookie Lyon in Empire, making her one of the highest-paid actresses on television. She also earned millions from starring in blockbuster films like Hidden Figures and What Men Want.

Henson has also invested in various businesses, such as a hair care line called TPH by Taraji, which she launched in 2020. She also owns several properties, including a mansion in Los Angeles that she bought for $6.4 million in 2019.

What are the movies Taraji P. Henson has worked in?

Taraji P. Henson has worked in over 40 movies since her debut in Streetwise (1998). Some of her most notable movies are:

  • Baby Boy (2001), where she played Yvette, the girlfriend of Jody (Tyrese Gibson), a young man who struggles to grow up and take responsibility for his family.
  • Hustle & Flow (2005), where she played Shug, a pregnant prostitute who helps DJay (Terrence Howard), a pimp and aspiring rapper, to pursue his musical dreams.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), where she played Queenie, a nursing home worker who adopts Benjamin (Brad Pitt), a man who ages backwards.
  • Date Night (2010), where she played Detective Arroyo, a cop who helps Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey), a married couple who get involved in a case of mistaken identity and a criminal conspiracy.
  • The Karate Kid (2010), where she played Sherry Parker, the mother of Dre (Jaden Smith), a boy who moves to China and learns kung fu from Mr. Han (Jackie Chan).
  • Think Like a Man (2012) and Think Like a Man Too (2014), where she played Lauren Harris, a successful executive who falls in love with Dominic (Michael Ealy), a chef and aspiring entrepreneur.
  • No Good Deed (2014), where she played Terri Granger, a former prosecutor and stay-at-home mom who is terrorized by Colin (Idris Elba), an escaped convict who invades her home.
  • Hidden Figures (2016), where she played Katherine Johnson, one of the brilliant African-American women who worked as mathematicians at NASA during the Space Race.
  • Proud Mary (2018), where she played Mary Goodwin, a hitwoman who works for a Boston crime family and tries to protect a young boy she orphaned during a botched job.
  • Acrimony (2018), where she played Melinda Gayle, a woman who seeks revenge on her ex-husband Robert (Lyriq Bent), who betrayed her and became rich with another woman.
  • What Men Want (2019), where she played Ali Davis, a sports agent who gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts and uses it to advance her career and love life.
  • The Best of Enemies (2019), where she played Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist who clashes with C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a Ku Klux Klan leader, over school integration in 1971 North Carolina.

What are the famous roles played by Taraji Henson?

Taraji Henson is an American actress who has starred in various movies and television shows, such as Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hidden Figures, Empire, and more. She has received numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, a Critics’ Choice Television Award, and an Academy Award nomination. Here are some of her famous roles that showcase her talent and versatility:

  • Yvette in Baby Boy (2001): This was Henson’s breakthrough role in John Singleton’s film about the life of a young Black man in Los Angeles. She played Yvette, the girlfriend of the protagonist Jody, who struggles with his immaturity and infidelity. Henson’s performance earned her positive reviews and recognition .
  • Shug in Hustle & Flow (2005): In this film, Henson played Shug, a pregnant prostitute who supports an aspiring rapper named DJay. She also sang backup vocals on the film’s Oscar-winning song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”. Henson’s role was praised for its authenticity and emotional depth.
  • Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): In this film, based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henson portrayed Queenie, the adoptive mother of Benjamin Button, a man who ages backwards. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role, which was described as “warm” and “compassionate”.
  • Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures (2016): In this film, based on a true story, Henson starred as Katherine Johnson, one of the African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the 1960s and helped launch the first American astronauts into space. Henson’s role was hailed as “inspiring” and “empowering”.
  • Cookie Lyon in Empire (2015-2020): In this TV series, Henson played Cookie Lyon, the ex-wife of a music mogul and the co-founder of Empire Entertainment. She is also the mother of three sons who are involved in the music business. Henson’s role was acclaimed for its charisma, sassiness, and fierceness. She won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards for her performance.

Which brands does Taraji Henson endorse?

Taraji Henson is not only a successful actress but also a savvy entrepreneur. She has endorsed several brands and products over the years, such as:

  • TPH by Taraji: This is Henson’s own haircare brand that she launched in 2020. The brand focuses on scalp health and offers products for various hair types and needs. Henson said she was inspired by her own DIY scalp remedies that she used to make in her kitchen. The brand is available at Target and HSN.com.
  • Body by TPH: This is Henson’s body care line that she launched in 2022. The line consists of products that aim to nourish the skin and provide a sensory experience. The line features three collections: The Cleanse + Condition Coalition, The Skin Stylers, and Restoration Rituals. Each collection has its own scent and candle.
  • Kate Spade New York: Henson partnered with Kate Spade New York in 2023 to promote their spring collection and their On Purpose initiative, which supports female artisans in Rwanda. Henson said she was drawn to the brand’s “optimism” and “joy”. She also donated $100,000 to her foundation, The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which provides mental health resources to Black communities.
  • Olay: Henson became an ambassador for Olay in 2021 as part of their Regenerist campaign. She said she chose Olay because it was a brand that her grandmother used and trusted. She also praised Olay for being inclusive and diverse in their representation of women.
  • American Express: Henson appeared in a commercial for American Express in 2017 as part of their Shop Small campaign. She encouraged people to support small businesses in their communities and shared her own story of shopping at local stores in Washington, D.C., where she grew up.

What are the viral stories of Taraji Henson?

Taraji Henson has been involved in several viral stories that have made headlines or sparked conversations on social media. Some of them are:

  • Her hug with Viola Davis at the Emmys: In 2015, when Viola Davis won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away with Murder, Henson was one of the first to congratulate her with a heartfelt hug. Henson was also nominated for the same award for Empire. The hug was widely shared and praised as a symbol of sisterhood and solidarity among Black women in Hollywood. Henson later revealed that she and Davis had a long friendship and that she once fought for Davis to be on the cover of Ebony magazine with her.
  • Her support for Chlöe Bailey: In 2021, when Chlöe Bailey, one half of the musical duo Chlöe x Halle, faced online backlash for her solo performances and social media posts, Henson was one of the celebrities who defended her and showed her love. Henson met Bailey backstage at TODAY and gave her a hug and words of encouragement. She also posted a video on Instagram praising Bailey’s talent and confidence.
  • Her confession about suicidal thoughts: In 2020, Henson opened up about having suicidal thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that she felt depressed and isolated and even researched how to buy a gun. She shared her story on her Facebook Watch series, Peace of Mind with Taraji, where she talks about mental health issues with celebrities and experts. She said she wanted to be honest and transparent about her struggles and encourage others to seek help.
  • Her audition for Scandal: In 2016, Henson revealed that she auditioned for the role of Olivia Pope in Shonda Rhimes’ hit show Scandal, which eventually went to Kerry Washington. She said that she knew the role was not for her and that Washington was perfect for it. She also said that she was happy for Washington’s success and that there was no competition or jealousy between them.
  • Her reaction to Jussie Smollett’s sentencing: In 2022, when Jussie Smollett, Henson’s former co-star on Empire, was sentenced to 150 days in jail for staging a hate crime, Henson joined several other celebrities in criticizing the punishment as excessive. She said that Smollett was still her son and that she loved him unconditionally. She also said that she hoped he would heal and learn from his mistake.
What are the viral stories of Taraji Henson?

What are the scandals of Taraji Henson?

Taraji Henson has mostly avoided major scandals in her career, but she has faced some controversies and criticisms for some of her actions or statements. Some of them are:

  • Her comments on R. Kelly: In 2019, Henson faced backlash for seemingly comparing the number of hashtags about R. Kelly, who was accused of multiple sexual abuse allegations, and Harvey Weinstein, who was also accused of multiple sexual assault allegations. She posted a video on Instagram Stories where she searched for “#MuteRKelly” and “#MuteWeinstein” and implied that there was a double standard in the treatment of Black and white men accused of sexual misconduct. She later deleted the video and clarified that she was not defending R. Kelly but rather questioning why his accusers were not getting the same support as Weinstein’s accusers.
  • Her lawsuit over dog bite: In 2015, Henson was sued by a former friend who claimed that Henson’s dog attacked her during a visit to Henson’s house in 2014. The friend alleged that she suffered permanent scarring and nerve damage from the bite and that Henson refused to pay for her medical bills or apologize for the incident. The friend sought unspecified damages from Henson. The outcome of the lawsuit is unknown.
  • Her apology to Glendale police: In 2015, Henson apologized to the Glendale police department after accusing them of racially profiling her son during a traffic stop in 2014. She said that she based her accusation on a video that she saw online that turned out to be incomplete. The full video showed that the officer who stopped her son was respectful and courteous and that he only issued a citation for marijuana possession after finding the drug in her son’s car. Henson said that she regretted making a false claim and that she had respect for law enforcement officers who protect citizens every day.
  • Her feud with 50 Cent: Henson has had an ongoing feud with rapper and producer 50 Cent, who has repeatedly criticized Empire and compared it unfavorably to his own show Power. The feud escalated in 2016 when 50 Cent posted a screenshot of a headline that claimed Empire’s ratings had dropped due to too much “gay stuff”. Henson responded by calling out 50 Cent’s hypocrisy and insecurity and telling him to “kiss my ass”.

FAQ:

Who is Taraji Henson?

Taraji Penda Henson is an American actress and singer who has starred in various movies and television shows, such as Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hidden Figures, Empire, and more. She has received numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, a Critics’ Choice Television Award, and an Academy Award nomination.

How old is Taraji Henson?

Taraji Henson was born on September 11, 1970, in Washington, D.C., U.S. She is 53 years old as of 2023.

What is Taraji Henson’s net worth?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Taraji Henson’s net worth is estimated to be $25 million as of 2020. She earns most of her income from her acting career, as well as from her endorsements and business ventures.

Is Taraji Henson married?

Taraji Henson is not married, but she is engaged to former NFL player Kelvin Hayden. The couple announced their engagement in May 2018, after dating for two years. They were supposed to get married in 2020, but they postponed their wedding due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does Taraji Henson have a son?

Yes, Taraji Henson has a son named Marcell Johnson, who was born in 1994. He is her only child from her previous relationship with her high school sweetheart William Lamar Johnson, who was murdered in 2003. Marcell is also an aspiring actor and model.

What are some of Taraji Henson’s famous roles?

Some of Taraji Henson’s famous roles are:

  • Yvette in Baby Boy (2001), where she played the girlfriend of the protagonist Jody.
  • Shug in Hustle & Flow (2005), where she played a pregnant prostitute who supports an aspiring rapper.
  • Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), where she played the adoptive mother of Benjamin Button, who ages backwards.
  • Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures (2016), where she played one of the African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the 1960s.
  • Cookie Lyon in Empire (2015-2020), where she played the ex-wife of a music mogul and the co-founder of Empire Entertainment.

What are some of Taraji Henson’s awards and honors?

Some of Taraji Henson’s awards and honors are:

  • A Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama for Empire in 2016.
  • A Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for Empire in 2015.
  • An Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2009.
  • A BET Award for Best Actress for The Karate Kid in 2011 and Think Like a Man in 2013.
  • An NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for Hidden Figures in 2017 and The Best of Enemies in 2020.

What are some of Taraji Henson’s hobbies and interests?

Some of Taraji Henson’s hobbies and interests are:

  • Singing and dancing: She has a passion for music and has showcased her vocal skills in several films and shows. She also enjoys dancing as a form of exercise and expression.
  • Reading and writing: She loves to read books and magazines, especially biographies and self-help books. She also likes to write poetry and journal entries. She published her autobiography titled Around the Way Girl in 2016.
  • Cooking and baking: She likes to cook and bake for her family and friends, especially during the holidays. She often shares her recipes and photos on her social media accounts.
  • Traveling and exploring: She likes to travel and explore different places and cultures around the world. She has visited countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, South Africa, China, Japan, and more.

What are some of Taraji Henson’s causes and charities?

Some of Taraji Henson’s causes and charities are:

  • Mental health: She is an advocate for mental health awareness and treatment, especially within the African-American community. She founded The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018, named after her late father who suffered from mental health issues. The foundation provides resources and support to people who struggle with mental health challenges.
  • Education: She is a supporter of education and empowerment for young people, especially girls and women of color. She has donated money and scholarships to several schools and organizations, such as Howard University, Girls Inc., Black Girls Rock, and The United Negro College Fund.
  • Animal rights: She is a lover of animals and a vegetarian. She has posed for PETA’s “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign and has spoken out against animal cruelty and testing.

What are some of Taraji Henson’s upcoming projects?

Some of Taraji Henson’s upcoming projects are:

  • Coffee & Kareem: This is a Netflix comedy film where she plays a single mother who gets involved in a dangerous adventure with her son and her new boyfriend, a police officer.
  • Minions: The Rise of Gru: This is an animated prequel to the Despicable Me franchise where she voices Belle Bottom, the leader of a group of villains who challenge Gru.
  • The Ms. Pat Show: This is a Hulu comedy series where she serves as an executive producer and guest star. The show is based on the life of comedian Patricia Williams, also known as Ms. Pat.

Written by Vikram

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