Some remember her as Queenie, others know her as Detective Arroyo; to you she may be Cookie Lyon, or the woman who played the iconic Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures. Taraji P. Henson may have played all these outstanding TV and movie characters, but the most badass role our April cover star has ever played is that of being the fearless, witty, stylish Hollywood star she is… and unapologetically so.
Taraji represents educated boss ladies, matriarchs, supermoms, and the funny outgoing friend. She’s had her fair share of disappointing and relatable human experiences, but has not let that define who she is or her career in any way.
Here are four badass things we admire about this award-winning actress:
She escaped an abusive relationship
In her book Around the Way Girl, Taraji reveals her more vulnerable side when she opens up about leaving her son’s father for being a physically abusive partner. In the book, she gives an account of the painful ‘aha’ moment when she decided to leave William Lamar Johnson (who was murdered in 2003).
‘The next thing I knew, Mark’s balled-up fist was coming straight for my face. I pulled my hand from my mouth and looked at the blood on my trembling finger. I said, “You know what? I don’t have to do this – and I don’t have to hate you for it.”
‘With that separation, my forever man, my first love, was no more.’
She is proudly feminist
In 2017, the Proud Mary actress spoke at Marie Claire USA’s Power Trip conference, where she asked a simple, yet important question, ‘Who wouldn’t want to be a feminist? We need each other, and we need men to understand our plight. We need men to be feminists.’
She’s the only Cookie Lyon
Taraji holds multiple awards for her outstanding performance as the cut-throat Cookie Lyon on musical drama Empire. Although she admitted in 2017 that the character wears her out sometimes, Taraji has given us a handful of unforgettable moments, hilarious one-liners, served luxurious fur coats, and meme-worthy content over the seasons.
‘The streets weren’t made for everybody, that’s why they made sidewalks,’ is one of her grittiest lines on empire. But here are a few more of the best moments in gifs:
She plays the formidable Katherine Johnson on Hidden Figures
Tarji won an MTV Movie Award for Best Hero for playing the role of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures – a film based on real-life events, which not only told the story of the Space Race, but about the human race too. When the film won a SAG Award in 2017, Taraji gave a moving speech in which she powerfully said: ‘This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside.’
To read more on what makes Taraji P. Henson so badass, pick up a copy of our April #BadassWomen issue in stores now.