Taraji P. Henson may not appear on the September cover of Harper’s BAZAAR (that honor went to Katy Perry), but she turns in one hell of a photo spread inside the issue.
Preview Taraji’s story Fortune Cookie: Taraji P. Henson below, and see her stunning photos that follow.
“Leopard is hot when you make it hot,” Taraji P. Henson is saying, sipping champagne in a New York photo studio. As with everything Henson says, you are prone to agree. It’s all in the delivery—complete with her huge, hyper-expressive eyes, widening and narrowing, each word arrives like she’s announcing the winner of a prize.
But with her role as the leopard-print-loving Cookie Lyon in Fox’s wildly populist hit Empire, it is Henson, 44, who has won. The soapy, tongue-in-cheek drama, and Cookie, the ballsy ex-con matriarch of the Lyon family, have catapulted Henson further in one short season than her 20-year acting career (and Best Supporting Actress nomination for 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) had previously. “It was quiet, it was a quiet success,” she says of her pre-Empire career. “I could still live. Now it’s like … ” When it comes to television in 2015, Henson is queen of the jungle.
While she feels a whoosh of sudden fame, Henson has also done her homework. “I always studied Bette Davis,” she explains. “When I did my first film, Baby Boy, [director] John Singleton’s mother called me ‘Bette Davis Eyes.’ So I bought Bette’s entire collection. She can say so much with her eyes. It all bubbles under the surface.” On cue, Henson opens hers like blinds from a window. “The best actors I’ve worked with in life said, ‘If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.'”
Henson has eyes, but the cultish Cookie has quotes, enough to fill an urban dictionary. Like the insta-classic “The streets ain’t made for everybody, that’s why they made sidewalks.” She has memes: Cookie plus Cookie Monster. And she has gifs: “You’re messing with the wrong bitch.” Cookie is the gif that keeps on giving.
For more, head on over to Harper’s BAZAAR.