Taraji P. Henson breathes the finest air in Hollywood. She is one of the few actresses to enjoy both mainstream success and acclaim, while she has a loyal fan base that includes wealth, generations, and geography but is also decidedly black. She is the "Who-To-Be Girl" – as her memoir, published last year – which made it big, an Oscar nomination for 2008 "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", a Golden Globe for her Role as Cookie Lyon on "Empire" And three Emmy nominations.
But she never forgot where she came from. Like her movie debut, she works with John Singleton on 2001
Perhaps that's why many critics are often stunned by the 47-year-old's selection in roles. How in the world can you say that such a talent has gone from the fascination of the Oscar-nominated (and box-office hit) "Hidden Figures" last year to the not yet perfect action thriller "Proud Mary," which came out in January? to go to the "Acrimony" of this weekend's critical Pariah – yet prolific multi-hyphenate –
"I'm in love with the craft of acting," said Henson. "It's like Prince and Michael Jackson with music, can you see they're never making music, I see them now, and they're not here because they put so much of themselves into their music, the way I say about mine Art.
"I'll never get to a certain level where I do not or no longer do that. If it's a good script, I'll do it. … I do not care if it's a million-dollar movie or a five-dollar movie. If I am connected, I have to do it. "
I do not expect everyone to like me.
Taraji P. Henson
In" Arimony, "Henson plays Melinda, a devoted-girlfriend-turned-wife, tired of her sneaky friend-turned-husband (Lyriq Bent) At some point, she becomes furious when it looks as if her college friend once again betrayed her confidence.The film stars Crystle Stewart, Ptosha Storey, Jazmyn Simon, Kendrick Cross and Nelson Estevez, among others and staged.
This is the third time that Henson and Perry have been working together on the 2008 "The Family That Preys" and the 2009 "I Can Bad All Mises." When asked why they keep coming back to Perry She writes and directs the guardianship and simply says, "I trust him.
"He gives me good jobs and good roles," she added. "When I worked with him for the first time, I worked with Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard and Sanaa Lathan, all of whom I see as an actress, why should I reject that as an artist?" The next time we worked together, he called me the day after the Oscars, when I was nominated, and gave me my first lead role in a movie.
"He always said," I will work with you again, but it must be true. "So I knew when he called that he had something great. And he did it.
The Times hired Henson to talk about her final role in how critics reacted to her work over the years and what she started to learn while still producing her own projects.
Why did you say that role?
Because it reminded me so much of
He originally wanted me to play [character in college and as an older woman]but "Empire" would not keep me from all those days So he broke it, and [Ajiona Alexus] playing me as a cookie plays the younger I in "Acrimony ". She has naturally bright eyes and wears dark contact lenses for empire. "This time I have light contacts wore her eyes. So my part of the film [was completed] in five days.
That's crazy, right?
Yes! And it's not like it's a simple character to portray. This woman is hellishly complex and I literally had no time to research or do anything. I really had to trust the process, my education and what was on the side.
How does this work for you to still be in the mindset of the complicated character that Cookie is, and then jump? do you play this similarly complex character that expresses itself very differently?
That's the excuse I wanted to give Tyler [not to do it]and he did not do it. He said, "You've been living with Cookie for three years, shut up and come down and do that movie." He told me to stop being dramatic. [laughs]
And the way I choose my projects … I only do projects that scare my life. That way, I know that I have to face my fears, and it's something that makes me grow and change and transform me. I like roles that challenge me in more ways than one. What I have proven again and again is that I'm doing my best work under pressure. Even with "Proud Mary" I had no time to work on any stunts or fight scenes. I learned this choreography on the day of learning.
Do you find comfort in feeling uncomfortable?
I love a challenge because I'm doing something else. If it does not challenge me, I will not challenge my audience. And this audience, they really get tired quickly. They can not always play the same roles because it's expensive to go to the movies. It is time consuming and people have trouble caring and families. I want to make it a pleasant moment. I work so hard and try to put so many different characters in the box because I want people to trust me. Like Meryl Streep: You'll see everything she does, right? There are certain actresses who know that you will be entertained when you pay for your money. I work so hard for that.
What do you think of this approach to your career?
I think that made me relevant. And it kept me working, that's for sure.
But we know of actors who, once they hear this Oscar nomination, no longer appear in a certain way of film they might have built up their careers.
I'll show you the design to be relevant and longevity: I do not want to target an audience, my work is everywhere, my first TV show was on Lifetime Series Director The next time I do something with Lifetime, it's a TV movie, [“Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story”] I'm getting an Emmy nomination, not to make my own horn, but that's a beautiful cycle of life, if I've ever seen one but what if I said, " I do not want to make Lifetime. I was there and did that? "I would not have gotten my first Emmy nomination  See, I'm not judging it, I'm not trying to make any profit from it, I'm not choosing roles for the Oscar or the Emmy the last thing I think about, people project that on me, do not get me wrong, I do not reject it or take away its meaning, but I do it for the people, I try to touch as many people as possible before I do This is a gift that God has given me, the least I can do is share it.
On my side of the table, people said, "She was so great in & # 39; Hidden Figures & # 39 ;, but then she went to & # 39; Proud Mary & # 39; and & # 39; Arimony & # 39 ;. What's happening? ? "
But you see, wherever I go, there's an audience, right? [laughs] So, if I make a movie like" Hidden Figures, "everyone will come in. I have fans that have been" Baby Boy " I will never turn my back on them I will never be too good for a role
Are you interested in what critics say?
No, critics are what they are, critics. It's their job to find something wrong, to criticize, even if it's a beautiful movie, they'll try to find something wrong, but that's their job, I can not be mad at them, they speak their truth, but what I like about critics is that they never shame me, they can hate a movie, but they love my work, or I saved them, or I'm the reason why the movie did what it did, as long as I did I can not take anything away, I know what I left in the film and the human being They connect every time. Because I'm interested in it.
And I do not expect everyone likes everything. I do not expect everyone to like me. This is madness to please everyone. I'm a human and I know that everyone will not like me, and I'm fine with that.
You have decided to challenge yourself by going to the manufacturer's chair. How do you choose the projects you want to help bring to life?
I have to be passionate about his message and how it will affect the people they see. Like the
It reminded me of Emmett Till. You did not see this little boy as a child …. I think the missing beat is that we have to humanize him. We have to show this young kid in Chicago with that bubbly personality, because all we now see of him is his eyeball in that coffin of this horrible picture. That's all we know about Emmett Till because we never met him. We never met Trayvon and the endless names [of victims]. This is the next one after I finished "What Men Want" this summer and returned to "Empire".
The industry does not let you forget black. So, do not be offended.
Taraji P. Henson
Are there any things you have learned to wear a hat from a producer that you do not necessarily know when you were just a talent?
I realize that I have to be very particular about how things are promoted. I have to fight to make those decisions or at least do something.
What do you mean?
Just as things are marketed. You can have a great movie, but if you see the promo, you're confused. Then you watch the movie and you're like, "That was not what was in the promo." It has happened a few times in my career. Now that I'm producing, I understand that's one thing I have to watch out for. Because I am also a member of the audience and I know what gets me into the theater.
People should approve of Tyler Perry, right? No matter what you think about his films, people are always appearing and he seems to have perfected the marketing strategy for them.
Because he is still a human being. He is not in a cocoon and unreachable. He is generous and knows what people want because he hangs out with people. His crew, most of them young college graduates, would never get a chance in Hollywood. But they go to the cinema.
I often think that certain films are lit in green because nobody understands what people really want. They just try to excel what the last studio did. "That worked for them, so we'll make five of them." [laughs] Because it's about dollars and cents. Chuck Hodes / Fox
Now the industry "Do not forget that you're black. So do not be offended. Just know that this is the fight and the fight we are fighting. Get on the car and fight against him. "
If I go to the colleges and talk to the kids, I ask them to raise their hands if they want to be actors, all hands go up then I ask A couple of hands, writers, a couple Then I ask for studio bosses, no one, look, we think too small, and until we start thinking differently, we'll always fight.
Look Tyler, he's not supposed to fight anyone, he thought big, why not, why not own a studio, why not, Tyler did it and is the blueprint, and he'll show you how.
"Empire" started airing again this week, how does it feel to have any cookie left to play around with?
It definitely questions the authors, because what's up with what you've already done for them? Cookie I have loved this season Time to go back when she was in prison, and we met her mother, played by Alfre Woodard. It was really great, but I like a challenge, so I always look at the authors. "You better challenge me!" [laughs]
I really like playing characters and that's why I lean towards the feature films. That's why I'm really the only one [on “Empire”] that does so much, except Jussie [Smollett] who just came out with his album and is going on tour now. But when they scream, Terrence [Howard] is like, "I'm going to lie down" while hoping on a plane. I really like to play characters and can not get enough because there are so many characters you can play.