After nearly two decades in the trenches of Hollywood, Taraji P. Henson is sitting on top of the world. Playing Empire's most talked-about character, Cookie Lyon, which has earned Henson an Emmy nomination and also brought her a whole new level of fame. While those of us who love our Black rom-coms have been stanning for Taraji for years, mainstream America finally caught on to her star power.
One thing's for sure, becoming a phenomenon hasn't fazed her. "I've been doing this for a long time. I am not a spring chicken, I'm grown," she tells us during the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "I am an adult now, and I am not caught up in the hype. I know not to believe that hype."
Still, she admits, being America's favorite matriarch has affected her life in one critical way. "I can’t do things that I used to do, like Target. I love going to Target. I love going to Marshalls, or Ross. I still love TJ Maxx, and it is really difficult for me to do that [now]. I have to go at a really weird hour, dressed up like the Unibomber."
As for her Emmy nomination and potentially historic win in the Best Actress in a Drama series category, she's taking that in stride as well. "I was surprised," she says of the recognition. "I don’t really pay attention. Someone called me and told me."
More than excited, Henson has mixed feelings about the honor because the significance that a Black woman could win the award after nearly 40 years seems inherently unfair. "I think it is bitter and sweet," she says. "It is sad and beautiful at the same time. Because, really? In 2015 we are still talking about [Black women making history at the Emmys]?"
In any case, we'll be rooting for Taraji on the big night. In the meantime, watch the actress talk about the first season of Empire in the BET.com video below.
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(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)