By : Jazmine Montgomery
The beautiful , hardworking , and talented Taraji P. Henson has came a long way from when she came to Hollywood as a college graduate , with her son , and $700 dollars to her name .
Taraji Penda Henson was born September 11, 1970 in Washington D.C. . At a young age Taraji found a love for the performing arts , in her teenage years she applied for a performing arts High School , but she was denied .When Henson graduated from high school she attended North Carolina A&T University where she pursued a career in electrical engineering , Taraji decided to change her major to theater after she failed Pre-Calculus .Once Henson changed her major she decided to change schools as well , and transferred to Howard University.
While at Howard University Taraji worked two jobs one at the Pentagon as a front desk assistant and another one as a cruise ship entertainer . Henson earned herself a triple threat scholarship while at Howard for her skills in acting , singing , and dancing .
In her junior year of college Taraji became pregnant with her son Marcell . She was determined to finish college and keep her son . She asked her professors not to treat her any differently because she was pregnant , and they didn’t either . Henson was able to keep up with her performance schedule very well while pregnant , she performed in a Greek tragedy early on in her pregnancy , and performed in a stage performance of Dream Girls while in her second trimester of her pregnancy . In 1995 , Henson graduated from Howard University with a degree in theater .
A year after graduating Taraji , and her son moved to Los Angeles with only 700 dollars to her name , Taraji was determined to make a name for herself and provide a better life for her son . Two years of working an office job to make ends meet and going on countless auditions , Henson received her first professional acting gig with a recurring role on the television show Smart Guy .The role led to a role on the teen sitcom Sister , Sister starring the teen twin stars Tia & Tamara Mowry . Henson also had roles on the popular medical TV drama ER as well .
In 2001 , Henson received her big break in John Singleton’s film Baby Boy . Her performance in Baby Boy led to her big break in 2004 playing Shug in Hustle & Flow , she sang Hard Out For a Pimp on the soundtrack , which received an Academy Award for Best Song . In 2008 she played a challenging role along side Brad Pitt in the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , the movie showed a whole new side of Henson , she received nominations for Actors Guild , and the Academy Awards for her outstanding performance . Since then Henson has played in many more blockbuster hits like Think Like a Man , and the sequel to the movie Think Like a Man Too.
Henson recently just returned back to TV, playing in the 2015 breakout show Empire. Henson plays one of the leading characters Cookie Lyon ex wife to music mogul Lucious Lyon ( Terrance Howard ) , after being in jail for 17 years Henson character has came back to take back what she believe that she owns of Lucious’s music company . Henson has definitely became a fan favorite on the show , and was even nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress .
Taraji has remained a humble individual through the process of becoming the person she is now . Henson works with inner city organization called A Place Called Home where she devotes quite a bit of her time whenever she has the chance . Henson wants to inspire the youth to have faith in themselves and, “that the greatest recipe for success comes from self confidence.”