Empire TV Show Wiki
Empire TV Show Wiki
Taraji P. Henson
640px-Taraji P. Henson 2011.jpg
Biographical Information
Birth name: Taraji Penda Henson
Birth date: September 11, 1970 (age 44)
Birth place: Washington, D.C.
Nationality: American
Professional Information
Occupation: Actress
Years active: 1997–present
Portrays: Cookie Lyon

Taraji Penda Henson (born September 11, 1970) is an American actress. She is known for her roles as Yvette in Baby Boy (2001), Shug in Hustle & Flow (2005) and Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2009.

Taraji currently stars as Cookie Lyon on the Fox musical drama series Empire.

Early Life

Henson was born in southeast Washington, D.C., the daughter of Bernice Gordon, a corporate manager at Woodward & Lothrop, and Boris Lawrence Henson, a janitor and metal fabricator. Her first and middle name are of Swahili origin, "Taraji" meaning hope and "Penda" meaning love.

Henson spent summers at her grandparents' house in suburban southern Maryland. She attended Oxon Hill High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland. She first attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she started a major in Electrical Engineering. She later transferred to Howard University. She worked two jobs—in the morning as a secretary at the Pentagonand in the night as a waitress on The Odyssey Cruise Line to pay for Howard University. She won the Triple Threat Award and graduated with a degree in Theater Arts.


Taraji's breakthrough role was in the film Baby Boy which she portrayed Yvette. In late 2008, she starred opposite Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Henson plays the role of Queenie, Benjamin's mother, in a performance which has garnered critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Henson has starred in Tyler Perry films The Family That Preys in 2008 and I Can Do Bad All By Myself in 2009. In 2010, she appeared in the remake of 1984 film of the same name the The Karate Kid alongside Jaden Smith. The film was a commercial success receiving positive reviews and became a box office hit. In 2012, Henson starred in the large ensemble cast film Think Like A Man, which was based on Steve Harvey's 2009 book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Henson reprised her role in the film's sequel Think Like a Man Too, which was released in June 2014.

Henson has also been a cast member on several television shows, including Lifetime Television's The Division and ABC's Boston Legal for one season. Her recurring appearances in television include the character Angela Scott on ABC's Eli Stone in December 2008. She has guest-starred on several television shows, such as the WB Television Network's Smart Guy, playing the role of Monique (1997–98); the Fox series House in 2005; and CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2006. She also starred on an episode of Sister, Sister. In 2011, Henson was cast in the CBS crime-suspense series Person of Interest. In the Person of Interest November 20, 2013 episode "The Crossing", after co-starring for two and a half years, Henson's character Carter was killed as part of the series' new storyline direction.Henson also stars in the movie hustel and flow along with Terrence Howard and plays as shug.

In February 2014, several months after her last episode of Person of Interest aired on CBS, Henson was hired by Fox to star in the new TV series pilot Empire, a musical drama set in the hip hop recording industry. Henson plays Cookie Lyon opposite co-lead Terrence Howard. Fox ordered the pilot to series in May 2014 and the TV series debuted on January 7, 2015 with positive reviews from critics.

Other work

Henson made her singing debut in Hustle & Flow; she provided the vocals for the Three 6 Mafia track "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp". The song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2006, giving Three 6 Mafia the distinction of becoming the first African American hip-hop act to win in that category. Henson performed the song at the live Oscar ceremony on March 5, 2006 with the group.Additionally, she performed the song "In My Daughter's Eyes" on the 2006 charity album Unexpected Dreams – Songs From the Stars. Henson has made several appearances in music videos. For example, she starred in the rapper Common's music video "Testify" in 2005 as the wife of a soon to be convicted murderer. On March 16, 2015 she was a guest co-host on Live! with Kelly and Michael filling in for regular co-host Kelly Ripa.



Year(s) Title Role(s) Notes
1997/98 Smart Guy Monique / Leslie 3 episodes
1998 ER Elan Episode: "Split Second"
2001 Murder She Wrote: The Last Free Man Bess Pinckney Movie
2002–04 The Division Inspector Washington 14 episodes
2004 All of Us Kim Episode: "In Through the Out Door"
2005 House Moira Episode: "Spin"
2006 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Christina Episode: "I Like to Watch"
2007–08 Boston Legal Whitney Rome 17 episodes
2008 Eli Stone Angela Scott 3 episodes in season 2
2010 The Cleveland Show Chanel Williams Episode: "Brotherly Love"
2011–13 Person of Interest Jocelyn "Joss" Carter Main role (54 episodes)
2015–present Empire Cookie Lyon Main role


Year Title Role Notes
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Left-Wing Student
2000 Satan's School for Girls Paige
2001 Baby Boy Yvette
2004 Hair Show Tiffany
2005 Hustle & Flow Shug
2005 Four Brothers Camille Mercer
2005 Animal Ramona
2006 Something New Nedra
2007 Smokin' Aces Sharice Watters
2007 Talk to Me Vernell Watson
2008 The Family That Preys Pam Evans
2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Queenie
2009 Not Easily Broken Clarice Clark-Johnson
2009 Hurricane Season Dayna Collins
2009 I Can Do Bad All By Myself April Jones
2010 Date Night Detective Arroyo
2010 The Karate Kid Sherry Parker
2010 Peep World Mary
2010 Once Fallen Pearl
2011 The Good Doctor Nurse Theresa
2011 Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story Tiffany Rubin
2011 Larry Crowne B'Ella
2011 Laugh at My Pain Taraji
2011 From the Rough Catana Starks
2012 Think Like a Man Lauren Harris
2013 Madly Madagascar Okapi
2014 Think Like a Man Too Lauren Harris
2014 No Good Deed Terri Granger

External Links

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