It's no secret that Taraji P. Henson is an amazing actress, but her road to success was far from easy. During a one-on-one sit-down with Gayle King at the 2015 American Black Film Festival, the Empire star dished on her road to stardom while encouraging others to follow their dreams no matter what.
Henson, who is also honored as the American Black Film Festival Ambassador, candidly spoke about her struggles with college before making it big. After detailing her transfer from North Carolina A&T to Howard University, the actress explained how she learned she was pregnant while enrolled in the HBCU. Despite the unexpected news, she refused to quit and was determined to finish what she started.
"Babies aren't a disease, they're a blessing," she said, via TheYBF. "Just because you have a baby doesn't mean you have to stop following your dreams."
After graduating from Howard, she packed up her and her son's things and moved to California with just $700 in her pocket. She continued that she would then go on audititions to be told that she was too old to break into Hollywood, but she refused to take "no" for an answer. After months and months of trying, she landed a leading role in John Singleton's 2001 film Baby Boy, then Hustle & Flow, four years later, which earned her an Oscar Nomination.
Following her Oscar nod, many expected the actress to abandon her roots, but when she decided to accept a role from Tyler Perry, she left many in shock. According to the actress, she accepted the role not for the check, but for the impact it would have on others' lives.
"The first call I got the day after the Oscars, Tyler Perry," she said. "The first person that called to offer me the No. 1 position as the star of the movie in I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Interestingly enough, people railed me doing that movie after the Oscar nomination and I was like [Martin] Scorsese didn't call... [I got into it] to touch people, to touch and move and inspire. Art saved me from the hood."
Inspiring words from an inspiring woman.
Watch Taraji P. Henson speak on the shooting death of Walter Scott in the BET.com exclusive video below.
(Photo: Alberto Reyes/WENN.com)