Taraji P. Henson on How the Jussie Smollett Fiasco Affected the 'Empire' Cast: 'We'll Never Be the Same. No One Will Ever Be the Same'

Taraji P. Henson sat down with and opened up about her personal battle with anxiety and depression.

As the conversation evolved, Taraji touched on how Jussie Smollett’s alleged hoax fiasco affected herself and the rest of the ‘Empire’ cast.

Check out a few excerpts:

Variety: Do you see a therapist regularly?

Taraji: I talk to someone regularly. It has to be regularly, and that’s what I learned. It gets frustrating because you’re waiting for them to fix you, but it’s not that easy. I had to go through several therapists that I felt comfortable talking to, or that I felt was moving me forward and that I was making some progress with, and that takes time. I remember the first time I went, I was angry, because I was like, “She didn’t tell me nothing! She didn’t tell me anything!” You’re not going to figure it all out in one sitting.

We live in a 24/7 world today. How has social media impacted your mental health?

I turn off everything. This [picking up her phone] had become a problem. You get on here to check messages and next thing you know, you’re on social media. Social media is good and it’s bad. It plays a doozy. Even if life is good for you, you can still get on there and become depressed because people are filtering pictures and living these false lives, and it makes you second guess yourself – not intentionally, it just does. That’s what this does. It makes you compare yourself. If you just stay in your lane and mind your business…that’s why I put that away. It was affecting my mood. I’d wake up in a good mood and I’d see something on there. I can control that — just don’t look at it! Because that thing can depress you. It can knock you off your game.

You still interact with your fans on social media for work purposes though, correct?

I have it on my iPad because I need it for business. But that whole thing of, “This is my life! This is what I did today!” That got old for me, maybe because I’m getting old [laughing]. There’s no mystique anymore. Everybody’s business is out there. The older I get, the weirder I feel about that. I don’t want you knowing everything. It was fun at first. But because people are so weird and this is a crazy world we live in, I’m afraid for the people that I know that have nothing to do with this industry. My lifestyle can possibly bring danger to them. Somebody might get a fetish with one of my cousins just because of me and then they’ll stalk them. It’s not as free and fun as you think it is, when you really think about it.

Social media has obviously been a huge part of your increased lack in privacy, but did it really all change with “Empire?”

Yeah. “Empire” changed everything. People recognized me before, but it made me international. I go out of the country and people yell, “Cookie Lyon!” in other languages. It’s almost like I became an overnight sensation, which is so far from the truth, but it felt like that. I had done other things, like “Hustle & Flow,” but there was just something about Cookie that propelled me to superstardom. It just took me from one level to the next. But look, you have to take the good with the bad. This is what I wanted. This is what I worked my ass off for my entire career. I’m not complaining, but things are just different now. I wouldn’t change a thing.

How has the Jussie Smollett case impacted you?

We’ll never be the same. No one will ever be the same. Forever changed. And it’s sad.

For the full interview, click here.

Share This Post