Taraji Penda Henson is a singer, actress, and author from the U.S.A. She was born on September 11th, 1970 in Washington D.C.
On Howard University, Taraji finished her acting studies, and after that, she headed for Hollywood. At first, she acted as a guest in a couple of TV shows and that is when her acting career started.
Her major breakthrough was in 2001 when she had a big role in Baby Boy. Taraji got great grades for her performance in Hustle & Flow, a film made in 2005, where she had the role of sex – worker.
For this role, she even got nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
For the role in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008, where she acted as a single mother taking care of a child with a disability, she got nominations for SAG Award, Academy Award, and Critics Choice Award. These awards were for Best Supporting Actress.
During 2010 she had two appearances. In Date Night, an action comedy, and in the film The Karate Kid, which was the remake of the original version.
The Time Magazine announced that Taraji Hanson is on their list of 100 most influential people on the world, in 2016.
In the same year, this popular actress finished and released her first book, i.e. her autobiography named Around the Way Girl.
This book became one of the New York Times bestsellers.
Also during 2016, Taraji got an award for her main role in the drama film Hidden Figures, where she acted Katherine Johnson. This award was Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Life and Education
Taraji Penda Hanson is the daughter of Boris Lawrence Henson and Bernice Henson. Her father, Boris, was a metallurgist and a janitor. Her mother worked at Woodward & Lothrop as a corporate manager.
The popular actress also has two siblings, who are younger than Taraji. Her brother name is Shawn and the sister name is April.
Her grandmother from mother’s side, Patsy Ballard, has always been a big support for Taraji and she had a great influence on Taraji too. Patsy was her company when she attended the Academy Awards happenings.
The first and the middle name of this popular actress have Swahili origin. In this language “Taraji” means hope and “Penda” means love.
Analysis of Taraji’s DNA showed that have Cameronian origin from her mother side, and this analysis leads to the conclusion that she has a trace of Masa people.
In one occasion Taraji stated that Matthew Henson, who explored the North Pole, was her great-great-grandfather’s brother.
Since always Taraji Hanson was interested in entertainment and art,s. Because she wanted to fulfill her dreams from childhood, Taraji wanted to go to Duke Ellington School for the Arts.
She even tried to do so, but unfortunately, they turned out her application. Then she went to Oxon High School.
Taraji Henson attended Oxon Hill High School from which she graduated in 1988. After high school, she went to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where she meant to become an electrical engineer.
Luckily, she changed her mind and got transferred to Howard University where she began drama studies. To pay for her scholarship on college she had to work on the ship Spirit of Washington as a dancing waitress by evenings. In the mornings, Taraji worked in The Pentagon as a secretary.
In the early 1990s, Taraji Henson had three roles where she starred as a background performer. Thanks to these roles, Taraji became a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Her first bigger appearance on the TV was in 1997. Taraji Hanson acted in a popular American sitcom, Smart Guy, and this was her debut as an actress.
The first noted role of this actress was in Baby Boy, a drama film made in 2001. She acted as Yvette and her partner in this film was Tyrese Gibson, a popular American rapper.
The next film in which Taraji acted was Hustle & Flow, a realization from 2005, where she played the role of Shug a lover of the main male character which was performed by Terrence Howard.
This role was also Taraji’s debut as a singer and for that, she got the Academy Awards nomination, which she had won.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a release from 2008, where Taraji played her role alongside Brad Pitt. In this film, she portrayed Queenie, mother of Benjamin Button. For this part, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Taraji described Queenie as a personification of unconditional and pure love.
In 2008 and 2009 Taraji performed in two films, The Family That Preys and I Can Do Bad All By Myself, both realizations of Tyler Perry.
Her next role was in 2010 when she acted in The Karate Kid, a remake of a cult film. There she appeared with Jaden Smith.
In 2011 Henson appeared in the film Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story. In this film, based on a true story, Taraji played the role of Tiffany Rubin which was the main woman role.
Taraji got very positive critics for this role which also brought her a few nominations. Among them was a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.
Henson was in the casting for the film Think Like a Man in 2012, which was made according to the story from the book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. She also had a role in follow-up, Think Like a Man Too in 2014.
Hidden Figures is the film from 2016 in which Henson starred as well. This film was a huge success and it was nominated for many awards as well as for three Oscars (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, and Olivia Spencer’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress). Also, the film was nominated for two Golden Globes (Best Original Score and Best Supporting Actress).
Sony Screen Gem’s film, Proud Mary, was released in 2018, where Taraji had a part of a killer woman. In March of the same year, Hanson had a leading role in Tyler Perry’s Acrimony. She portrayed a faithful wife in this realization.
In November 2018, Taraji gave the voice to one of the characters from Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, called Yesss. This animated film was a follow-up of Wreck-It Ralph.
We saw Henson starring in What Men Want, a film released in February 2019, in which she played a sports agent who has the power to read men’s mind. This film is based on the film What Women Want which was produced by Mel Gibson.
Also, The Best of Enemies, the historical drama which is released in April this year, Taraji has a main role as Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist.
Taraji Henson is going to produce and also star in the film which is a story about a teen from Chicago, Emmett Till. In this film, Henson will play Mamie, who is the mother of Emmett.
Television career of Taraji Henson
The popular actress had a part as a guest star in a couple of television show. Among them are the Warner Brother’s Smart Guy, the series House presented on the Fox TV in 2005, and also in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation presented on CBS in 2006. Taraji also had a role in one of the episodes of TV sitcom Sister, Sister.
The other TV shows in which she was a part of the acting crew were The Division, presented on Lifetime, and Boston Legal on ABC. In both TV shows, she played for one season.
Angela Scot was a character from Eli Stone, an ABC TV show, also played by Taraji Hanson.
She was among the cast of the Person of Interest, a CBS presented crime TV show, in 2011. Henson’s character was killed in the episode called “The Crossing”. In this show, she played the role of ‘Joss’ Carter. This was due to the new storyline of the series.
After she finished playing in Person of Interest, in February 2014, Henson had a role in Empire, Fox’s musical drama. In this TV show, she portrayed Cookie Lyon and her partner once again was Tarrence Howard. This role was very successful for Henson since it brought her great reviews and acknowledgment.
For this role, Henson got the nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama Series.
Her role in Empire brought her the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama in January 2016. Henson became the third actress of Afro-American origin that won this prestigious award. Only Gali Fisher and Regina Taylor got this acknowledgment before Taraji Henson.
For the roles in No Good Deed and Empire, this actress was chosen as Entertainer of the Year in 2015 at the 46th NAACP Image Awards.
During 2015, Taraji and her colleague Terrence Howard decided to make a TV special on Fox which the main theme was holidays. The name of this program was Taraji and Terrence’s White Hot Holidays. This show was also broadcasted in the next two years, but Terrence left it and Taraji was doing it all by herself.
Today, Taraji Henson has an estimated net worth of about $16 million. All of the earnings she made through her acting roles, but it is well known that the biggest part of her fortune came with the role of Cookie Lyon from the Empire TV show.
She also earns a lot of from the mentioned collaboration with cosmetic company MAC Cosmetics.
Taraji’s singing career began in the Hustle & Flow. The soundtrack for this film was made by hip hop group Three 6 Mafia, and the actress sang the song named “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”. This track got Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Together with this group, Henson performed this soundtrack at the Oscar ceremony held on March 5th, 2006.
She also had a part in making a charity album Unexpected Dreams – Songs From the Stars, in which she performed a song called “In My Daughter’s Eyes”. This was also in 2006.
Henson also performed as an actress in a couple of music videos as well as on television. She had a role in “Testify” in 2005, actually in creating a music video for this song made by the rapper Common.
Her role in the music video “Stay” was a lover of the main character. This song was made by Tyrese Gibson.
Taraji guested as one of the hostesses in a TV show called Live! With Kelly and Michael where she was replacing Kelly Ripa.
This actress also has her own collection of makeup which she made in collaboration with Mac Cosmetics. This line is called Taraji P. Henson makeup collection and it was presented in 2016. Taraji was also a spokesman for this cosmetic company within the Viva Glam Campaign alongside Jussie Smollet. This campaign was made in order to raise funds for fighting against AIDS.
It should be mentioned that Henson has one appearance in Pasadena Playhouse where she had a role in Above the Fold. Also, she acted in a performance called Joe Turner’s Come and Gone which was written by August Wilson. Taraji starred in one of the episodes of Houzz series as well, in 2019.
Taraji Henson’s personal life
During her college days on Howard University, when Taraji was on her junior year, she was surprised to find out about her pregnancy.
However, she did not want this to stand on the way of her dreams and career. Taraji decided to keep up with her performance schedule, no matter of her being pregnant.
Taraji was determined to continue with her studies, therefore she said to her professors not to exclude her from the performances just because she is pregnant. Professors fulfilled her wish and treated her equal to the other students.
When she was in her early pregnancy, Taraji acted in a Greek tragedy. Later that year, she was even performing as a dancer and singer in Dreamgirls.
Year after she got baby, she graduated from college, and her life-long goal was accomplished.
Taraji Hanson has one son whose name is Marcell. He was born in 1994 and his father was Taraji’s boyfriend from the high-school days, William Lamar Johnson. Unfortunately, Johnson died in 2003, i.e. he was murdered.
In 2014, in Glendale, her son was caught in a police ration where his car was, as Taraji said, illegally searched. Namely, in the video that the Los Angeles Times obtained, we could see Marcell driving a car through a crosswalk while people were still crossing the street.
This situation ended up with Marcell’s admitting that he was smoking marijuana right before he sat behind the wheel. After the police searched his vehicle, they found marijuana and hashish oil inside of it.
This video went public and about half an hour after that, Taraji apologized to the Glendale Police officer and said that job of a police officer is not an easy one just like a job of a mother.
Taraji Hanson is known as a supporter of PETA (People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals). In January 2011, she posed naked in an ad of PETA’s campaign called I’d Rather Be Naked Than Wear Fur.
She was a part of another PETA’s campaign called Be an Angel for Animals. In this campaign, her dog Uncle Willie also posed beside her. The statement of this ad was “Chained dogs suffer day in and day out”.
She was also posing in an LGBT community advertisement in February 2015. This ad was done for their NOH8 Campaign.
At the end of 2017, Taraji Henson started a vegan diet because she wanted to avoid getting stomach cancer.
On May 13th, 2018 she announced her engagement to Kelvin Hayden, a former NFL player, on Mother’s Day. She posted on her social network profiles announcement of her engagement, together with the photo of the diamond ring on her finger.
After her announcing this, there were thousands of comments by her followers, who rushed to congratulate them.
They have been dating since December 2017, when she officially confirmed this information, which was the end of all other speculations.
She declares herself as a Christian and also states that her job as an actress is a spiritual experience.
Taraji is also very active on social media, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Because of her popularity, she has a lot of fans that follow her on these networks.
On Facebook, Taraji has almost six and a half million followers, on Twitter about five and a half million, and on Twitter almost twelve million followers.
Full name: Taraji Penda Hanson
Date of birth: September 11th, 1970
Birthplace: Washington D.C, United States
Profession: Actress, author
Height: 1.65 m
Weight: 65 kg
Net worth: $16 million