Hot off of winning a Critics’ Choice Award, Taraji P. Henson is definitely flying high. Last month, I was lucky enough to share a “Cookie” with the most spirited personality on television, Ms. Cookie Lyons. Even in person Ms. Henson embodies moments of her sassy on-screen character. Besides being the star of FOX’s hit series Empire, Taraji is the 2015 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Ambassador. Things have come full circle for this Hollywood A-lister. Her first encounter with ABFF was during the promotion of her early film, Baby Boy. She remembers attending the festival just for a free trip to Acapulco (formerly Acapulco Black Film Festival). These days, she still may be boarding the plane for free travel, but I guarantee…it is a much different experience!
Taraji is all of those things we see and love in her character and more. She is beautiful, sensitive, bold, confident, feisty, outspoken, laugh out loud-rolling on the floor funny, and very smart. Her knowledge of music is astounding. From rock, pop, hip-hop, R&B to old-school artists and newbies, she knows it all. At dinner, while being serenaded by singer/songwriter Alice Smith, Taraji could hardly contain herself when Smith performed songs of notable artists. Belting out names from Sarah Vaughn to Phyliss Hyman, Taraji aka Cookie’s role as the head of the music Empire became more than a fictional character.
If you were not acting, what would you be doing?
Taraji: I’m a foodie. I would travel the world, eat and blog about food whenever I felt like it.
Recently you traveled to Europe to promote Empire, what was your favorite place?
Taraji: I loved Paris, France. The food is so fresh. I lost two pounds from eating just bread and water.
Is there a special diet or regimen you follow to get “red carpet” ready?
Taraji: Yes, starvation!
Are there any foods that you avoid or don’t agree with you?
Taraji: Most foods gives me gas! I call it the Bubble guts (laughing). But, I have a remedy that fixes all gas bubbles and more.
Tell me about it…
Taraji: It’s called Manasul and you get it on Amazon. I call it “Boo Boo tea”. Take it at night and you wake up in the morning and it’s all in the river. You feel 20 pounds lighter!!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Taraji: Sorbet—all flavors.
What is your must-have kitchen gadget?
Taraji: A Vitamix. I can blend everything in it.
Have you ever worked in a restaurant?
Taraji: Yes, I was a waitress and I was a really good one. It’s all about your comebacks in waitressing. How you comeback from spilling red wine on a white Chanel dress is…EVERYTHING!
Name 3 things all waitresses should know.
- Bring the check when the guest ask for it–because it means they’re done and ready to go.
- Clear the empty plates before you are asked to.
- And, be prepared to pay for dry cleaning in the event of a spill on a white Chanel dress.
Speaking of comebacks, one of my favorite scenes in Empire was when you confronted “Boo Boo Kitty” in front of Luscious about speaking to Beretti. She stuttered and you mimicked her. Was that scripted or was it a “comeback”?
Taraji: It was definitely a comeback. I’ll say anything. A lot of my lines just come to mind.
Most exciting moment…
Taraji: My visit to Paris for the premiere of Empire. I walked into a room full of Parisians and they gave me a standing ovation. I cried.
Why was that moment so special?
Taraji: They knew my work. They knew Taraji P. Henson and Cookie Lyons.
What is the best thing about working on Empire?
Taraji: It’s so much fun!
Taraji: A lot of travel…Germany, Miami, New York, and hopefully back to Paris.
Are you having a good time?
Taraji: I am having a great time!
Meet Taraji P. Henson at ABFF, June 11th-14th in New York. For more information visit http://www.abff.com