Taraji P. Henson appears on one of three covers for Glamour‘s Game-Changing Women of TV issue, and inside, the Emmy nominee discusses single motherhood, the role that led to her most recent Emmy nomination and more.
Get an appetizer from her cover interview below.
GLAMOUR: Cookie’s got major confidence. How do you deal with scrutiny when the spotlight’s so hot? When you’re in a rut, how do you get your mojo back?
TPH: I don’t think about other people. They are not walking in my shoes. They are not paying my bills. What makes me happy is when I do what I like to do, for me.
GLAMOUR: The show takes on homosexuality and mental illness, and Cookie speaks frankly about her views on both. How do you handle the pressure of saying un-P.C. things before nearly 17 mil- lion people each week?
TPH: Cookie is the reason I drink. [Laughs.] She uses every emotion inside of me. She uses everything. When I saw the scripts, I was nervous, but then I realized that if I based everything in her reality and her pain, people would empathize instead of judge.
GLAMOUR: Because Empire has the largest African American cast in a network drama on TV, people see it as a sign of racial progress in Hollywood. Do you feel like things are changing?
TPH: I think we are making strides in Hollywood. It’s the world that I’m more concerned about…. My son grew up in a pretty much all-white situation and went to the best of schools. I saw the change when he got older and started to get that life is different for him [as a black male]. He came home crying, like, “Why do white people hate us? Why can’t we fix this?” This can be fixed. I’m gonna try my best to make change.
GLAMOUR: Speaking of your son [Marcel], you’ve shown firsthand that you don’t have to forget about your dreams when you become a mother. How did you make it work?
TPH: When I got pregnant in college, people said, “This is it for her.” But I did not stop. I never missed a class. I was in the school musical when I was six months pregnant—we just made the character pregnant. My mother swears Marcel came out doing the dance; he had learned the choreography. When I graduated, I carried my son across the stage. I wanted to be an actress; I moved out to L.A. with him. People were like, “Are you crazy, moving to California with your son?” My father was like, “Leave him home.” I said, “I can’t leave my son at home.” [And eventually] my father said, “That’s your baby. That’s your blessing. He’s going to be your strength.” And you know what? He was. I didn’t have time to go to the club to “network.” That’s B.S. No business deals go down at the club. So I didn’t get caught up in that. I had a mission. I had to make my dream come true. If I didn’t, what was I proving to my son?
For more, head over to Glamour.